In the past, my wife and I had some arguments about a certain IU basketball coach. More recently, though, we've been seeing things the same. We both liked Coach Mike Davis and we both were disgusted when Kelvin Sampson was hired to replace Coach Davis.
Then, this morning, Mary Lee brought me the paper opened to the article announcing the NCAA's sanctions against Coach Sampson for his recruiting violations back at Oklahoma. Dropping the paper next to me, she said, "I hope by some fluke he brings a losing streak to Indiana." I agree.
So why are we so hostile to Coach Sampson?
We're not. Our hostility is directed towards IU basketball in general; and more specifically...
...the men who made the decision to hire Sampson in the middle of this recruiting investigation when it was certain it was just a matter of time before this ruling would come down against him. What kind of message did this send?
Break the rules and get a promotion.
Who made the decision? Well, surely IU President Adam Herbert, Athletics Director Rick Greenspan, and the trustees all had veto power over the decision. Congratulations, gentlemen! You came up with the perfect way to communicate that, here at IU, how you coach the game is secondary; the main thing is to win.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions ruled:
This case is the result of the former head coach's complete disregard for NCAA guidelines for proper telephone contacts with recruits. The former head coach created and encouraged an atmosphere among his staff of deliberate noncompliance, rationalizing the violations as being a result of 'prioritizing' rules.
The NCAA judged that Coach Sampson committed "willful violations" at Oklahoma University. And taking an unusually pointed direction in their statement, they noted that Coach Sampson had broken the rules while serving as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and, in that capacity, heading up a special ethics summit.
The official response from IU's leadership?
IU trustee, Patrick Shoulders, said the sanctions were only for "minor infractions." Quoting IU President Adam Herbert, USA Today ran this headline:
Indiana: Sampson has "highest integrity"
Ironically, the best statement of response came from Coach Sampson himself: "I have learned an invaluable lesson, and I hope that this reinforces to other coaches the importance of every aspect of NCAA compliance."
Bully, then whiner, then cheat: can anyone call this "progress"?