IU President Adam Herbert: Coach Sampson has "highest integrity"...

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"?

Comments

As a life long Hoosier fan, I agree that it's just tragic to see how far the two major sports programs have fallen. I admit to never thinking Mike Davis was a good fit, but to toss him overboard in favor of Sampson is just insane. I suppose after the way the IU top brass were allowed to treat Bill Mallory, this shouldn't be a big surprise.

If Knight had continued to win championships, he would still be the head coach at IU.

As soon as he stopped winning titles, his behavior became an issue for the IU administration.

It's pretty sick when you think about it.

I initially thought that Sampson was a terrible choice, but have since warmed up to him. This is a big blow, however. It seriously tarnishes the reputation of IU. We used to hold ourselves to higher standards than the Kentucky's and UCLA's of the world. Can we say that now?

As a lifelong Sooner fan (and a PCA Presbyterian), I am disappointed in Coach Sampson for breaking the rules. Yet I have to say I genuinely like the guy and wish him the best at IU. I can promise you he does have some redeeming qualities, as you'll see if you read the column I have shamelessly inserted below. So give him a chance. Perhaps things will turn out better than you think.

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Father-Son Camp: It's About Time

[This column was published on Father's Day 2003 in The Sunday Oklahoman.]

This is the third Father's Day in a row that I've woken up sore.

But it's worth it, because I love spending time with my 10-year-old son at Kelvin Sampson's annual Father-Child Basketball Camp, held on the University of Oklahoma campus over Father's Day weekend.

Lincoln and I are among the 100-plus campers living in Walker Tower, eating at the Couch Cafeteria and playing ball in the Sooners' extraordinary practice facility adjacent to the Lloyd Noble Center. We practice our shooting and ball-handling, engage in sadistic stretching exercises, and battle other father-son combos in the two-on-two "Cutthroat" competition.

In a recent interview, Sampson told me he first got the idea for a father-son camp while running summer camps as a young head coach at Montana Tech. He even participated with his own son, Kellen.

"Kellen thought that was the neatest thing to stay in a dorm with his father," Sampson recalls. "To see me when I woke up in the morning, we're both brushing our teeth in the sink, getting dressed, going to eat in the cafeteria, coming back over to camp. He thought it was the funniest thing when his dad hurt his back and his legs were sore and he couldn't raise his arm above his head in the morning. And then going back to bed again that night and getting up."

Indeed, those are the very things Lincoln enjoys. Going through the cafeteria line with dad, getting Fruit Loops and pizza and green Jell-O. Sleeping with dad on dubious mattresses in a stale public dormitory. Being lifted skyward by Johnnie Gilbert and hanging, triumphant, on the rim.

It's not so bad for us dads, either. Seeing how much fun Lincoln has fraternizing with 19- and 20-year-old superheroes. Feeling the camaraderie during "Cutthroat," realizing that the little guy is genuinely proud to have dad on his team, and is pretty much counting on me to carry us to victory.

I still remember the final day of camp when the boy was 8. When the dad free-throw champs were announced and my name wasn't called, Lincoln assumed that I would be crushed. Hesitantly, he looked up at me with earnest compassion in his eyes and a small lump in his throat, and all he could muster was a soft, "Oh well." As in: "Don't feel bad. It's OK that you didn't win - I'm still proud of you."

Moments like those come when you least expect them. But they don't come if you don't spend time with your kids.

Growing up in North Carolina, Kelvin Sampson had a father who spent time with him. "Kelvin and I spent so much time together," Ned Sampson once told The Oklahoman's John Rohde. "We were together all the time. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I don't know if he did or not."

He did. "Little things you remember," Kelvin says. "Taking me to service stations and getting a Baby Ruth candy bar, or getting a soda on the way home, little things you associate with treats. But the treat for me was just being able to hang out with him."

He says his dad would work several jobs in the summers, but at night would always have time for the kids. "No matter how tired he was, he would always have time to pitch us baseballs, hit us ground balls, and that rubbed off on me. No matter how tired you are or whatever, you just always have time for your children."

Sampson says the public sees him as a basketball coach, but has no idea how much he enjoys being a father. "That basketball camp is a chance for me to share that," he says. And now that Kellen is too old for camp (he will be a freshman at OU this fall), Sampson savors "the joy I get from the other dads doing it with their sons. Because you have such a small window where you can share these kinds of moments and memories, and they're gonna be gone.

"And those are times you just can't get back."

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