Thursday, February 28, 2008

Arizona State: Scandal Looming in Baseball Program

The fuse has been lit on an explosive new scandal, this time in the baseball program at Arizona State University. As always, it will be months before there is any solid information beyond allegations. And as always, it will be months before we know whether it will be a firecracker or a hydrogen bomb which ultimately explodes. The story does, however, warrant a vigilant eye for several reasons: the information on the alleged violations comes from Mikel Moreno, a graduate assistant who was until just recently WITHIN the baseball program, and was also a player from 1995-1998; the head coach Pat Murphy was allegedly aware of and complicit in the violations; the Arizona State program has won five National Championships, and is one of the most successful programs in recent NCAA history. The following story represents the perspective of the accuser:

Mikel Moreno said he knows his baseball career is in jeopardy after the allegations he made about Arizona State's baseball program became public.

He said he also knows that the truth is more important than the "code."

The code he is referring to is the unwritten code of silence that current and former teammates, coaches and team officials stand by surrounding the inner workings of their program.

On the evening of Dec. 31, Moreno was informed by ASU coach Pat Murphy that his services were no longer needed as graduate manager of the top-ranked Sun Devils.

Moreno said Murphy's explanation for his sudden termination came down from the NCAA, which stated the Sun Devils' staffing condition was unfair to other programs.

"As far as I know, I never offended the man or did anything wrong for him to say that I was fired," Moreno said.

Three days after his firing, Moreno broke his code of silence after ASU compliance officer Bill Kennedy contacted him regarding alleged violations within the program. . . .

After Kennedy spoke with Moreno, ASU hired Ice Miller, an Indianapolis-based law firm, to investigate allegations of academic fraud, recruiting violations and other potential violations.

Yes, that is the same law firm that led the debacle of an internal investigation into Kelvin Sampson's cheating at Indiana University.

Moreno said his mother was unaware of any of the alleged violations the baseball program had committed, but had only warned officials of character flaws and minor grievances towards Murphy.

But according to Moreno, her warnings were enough to alert ASU's compliance office and prompt an investigation.

However, before Moreno informed Ice Miller of his allegations, he said he tried contacting Murphy on several occasions in an attempt to understand the reasoning behind his unwarranted termination.

"Three or four days went by without him returning my messages," Moreno said. "So I texted him, ‘Do I have a job at ASU in the future?'"

The text Moreno said he received from Murphy in return was shocking.

"He texted back saying, ‘I haven't done (expletive) and that I've only worked under Clint Meyers and I'm only a high school coach.

"I forwarded the message to Jeff Mousser and he even agreed that it was just a pretty bad message."

Mousser - a former Sun Devil pitcher - was the other graduate manager who had his position terminated on Dec. 31. Mousser, who helped direct Murphy's Cleats All Nine Baseball Academy, was also contacted and interviewed for the investigation. . . .

Moreno said the ASU Athletic Department was aware of many of the program's violations, but turned its cheek on the baseball program.

"To be honest with you, ASU has known about it (violations), but everyone is fearful," Moreno said. "ASU baseball is the Harvard of business."

Moreno declined to comment on specific violations he made because he has been threatened with lawsuits, but said the allegations he has made are the "tip of the iceberg."

"I was definitely aware that this could definitely hurt the program and I did not want that to happen," Moreno said. "But like I said, because of the actions of a few, and myself included, the program will be dinged a little bit."

The program allegedly sent players to at Athletes' Performance in Tempe - a world class training facility, which is a clear violation of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee.

The program is also being accused of violations relating to players working for Murphy's non-profit PTM Programs for Youth.

"The bottom line is when you have a disgruntled employee that leaves and makes it his mark to take down the program, you go through some uncomfortable times," Murphy told The East Valley Tribune. . . .

But the student newspaper at Arizona State reported today that Moreno's teammates vouch for his credibility:

Andrew Beinbrink, Moreno's former teammate for three seasons, said Moreno would not purposely denigrate ASU baseball.

"He got put into a position where he got questioned, almost under oath," Beinbrink said. "He's the type of guy who answers honestly so he can look himself in the mirror.

"I really hope this doesn't derail the program in any way and jeopardize their competitive play. There are two sides to this, and Mikel and Murphy are both good people." . . . .

Mark Ernster, a Sun Devil from 1997-99, said he believes Moreno is a "strong willed person who believes in fairness."

Ernster, too, was drafted in 1999, as a sixth-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers.
And as an alumnus, Ernster said he fears allegations could tarnish the school.

"They have a tradition-rich program. I definitely don't want to see any black marks," he said. "I don't think Murphy would do anything like what's being mentioned intentionally."

But Ernster, now the head coach of the baseball team at Liberty High School in Peoria, and Beinbrink, who now lives in San Diego, admitted they do not have the same access to ASU baseball that Moreno did as a graduate manager in 2007.

"As an alumni and former player, I know that boosters have no idea of what goes on behind those four walls," he said. "A competitive, Pac-10 program has a lot going on — recruiting, preparing for games and scheduling good games."

Head coach Pat Murphy also had this to say to the press:

"Any investigation of any program in Division I may show minor hiccups from time to time, none with intent or adding any advantage and most of which would be clerical or administrative error."
Somehow, I cannot take much comfort in the fact that his public comments on this matter have amounted to an attack on the credibility of the accuser and a statement which essentially parses as 'We cheat like everyone else but never intentionally.' Stay tuned.

Update 12:44 PM

A link to a interview with Mikel Moreno on KTAR radio 620, Phoenix on Tuesday.

1. Arizona State: Scandal Looming in Baseball Program
2. Arizona State Baseball: Jason Jarvis Speaks Out
3. ASU Baseball: Cheating in Online Music Course?
4. ASU Baseball: Jason Jarvis Declared Ineligible

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels

Commentary from Mike Bianchi at the Orlando Sentinel:

What you are about to read are the most cutting comments yet concerning the ongoing academic scandal at Florida State. . . .

These comments are so cutting not because they came from some perceived enemy, but because they came from within. They came from Garrett Johnson, arguably the most decorated scholar-athlete in FSU history -- a young man who truly loves his university and feels a "debt of gratitude" for the opportunity FSU provided him.

"This [academic misconduct] is concerning not because of the negative attention it has brought on Florida State, but because it wasn't a secret," says Johnson, an FSU Rhodes Scholar who is currently in grad school at Oxford University in England. "People knew what was going on. For people in the institution to take the position that they were unaware of the situation is untrue.

"I can't list specific allegations. I can't say who knew what. I'm just saying it was no secret. It's sort of like the Mitchell Report in baseball where the players are the ones being accused of taking steroids when everybody involved in baseball knew it was happening." . . .

"My purpose in providing criticism of the academic/athletic balance at the NCAA and Florida State is because I want to look out for student-athletes and protect their best interest. . . . I don't want to see student-athletes take the fall for this. This is all systemic and part of the culture of the NCAA, and it doesn't just happen at Florida State. It happens at almost every major Division I-A school. It's sad, but that's the reality of the beast." . . .

Let's get real here. Isn't the dirtiest little untold story in college sports about how universities spend millions of dollars on "academic support" to keep woefully under-performing students eligible for competition? Why else would a school like Florida State need to employ nine full-time staff members and dozens and dozens of tutors?

Many schools will tell you their academic support staffs report to university deans, but in reality they are bankrolled by the athletic department. Now ask yourself: Are academic counselors and tutors really going to bite the hand that funds them?

It's a never-ending circle. The academic-support staff is subsidized by the athletic department, which is funded by the football program, which is populated with star players who desperately need academic-support to stay eligible.

Then, of course, there's the ultimate hypocrisy: That these marginal students, who badly need to concentrate on their studies, instead spend most of their time concentrating on their sport. Which is why they end up in cupcake online music courses in the first place.

Johnson, for one, doesn't seem to think the NCAA or his own university will change much even in the wake of the ongoing academic scandal.

"I believe it is in the interest of self-preservation to perpetuate the status quo, despite the current rhetorical position taken by FSU and the NCAA," Johnson wrote in an e-mail "If academics REALLY take priority, I suggest athletic administrators and coaches demonstrate this by reducing their salaries to create parity with the tenured professors that work to prepare their athletes for long-term success. This would REALLY send a message."

Its a dream, but Johnson should be commended for having the guts to suggest it. BRAVO.

Update 11:15 AM Thursday

Johnson is also receiving a graduate education in the difficulties inherent in dealing with the press. Disappointed with the thrust of yesterday's story in the Orlando Sentinel, he has fired back today in the Tallahassee Democrat:

On Wednesday, an article containing criticisms of the NCAA and Florida State’s efforts to address academic misconduct appeared in an Orlando newspaper. While I stand by what I said my comments were misrepresented. . . .

Student-athletes who cheat and advisors who turn a blind eye should be held accountable, but punishing the guilty without reforming the culture will ultimately lead to similar disastrous outcomes in the future. Throughout my conversation with the author I emphasized the systemic and entrenched problems that plague college athletics, because they exist as the ‘elephant in the room’ everyone sees but fails to acknowledge. At the end of the day, student-athletes must take responsibility for striking the proper academic/athletic balance, and most do, but the onus of ensuring the academic integrity of the university should not be exclusively theirs to bear. . . .

The vast majority of student-athletes are remarkable contributors to the vibrant academic community at FSU, a point I stressed repeatedly but was conveniently ignored in the article. They take the difficult courses, are engaged in the community and I am honoured to call many of them friends. However, as long as bonuses and budgets are influenced by win-loss records and bowl game appearances there will exist an urgent need to protect less motivated students from the institution. As long as the ‘easy’ courses, rather than a re-prioritization of focus, remain a solution to academic eligibility concerns there will exist a need to look out for the less motivated students. As long as blaming less motivated students is used to deflect and diminish the NCAA’s failure to combat this flawed system, concerned individuals must hold them accountable by speaking truth to power. . . .

The author asked me to implicate individuals, I explained that my knowledge is restricted to the systemic issues rather than specific names, he responded with a sensationalized story. I condemn his erroneous attack on the invaluable support provided by tutors, from which I personally benefited, and his assault on the student-athletes and staff who comprise my FSU family. . . .

Update 12:13 PM Friday

Mike Bianchi contests the 'misrepresentation' of Garrett Johnson's quotes:

Johnson and I went on to talk about the systemic academic/athletic hypocrisy that plagues not only Florida State but most other NCAA schools. I included those quotes in my Wednesday column, too. I sent him a follow-up question via e-mail, and he replied. I quoted him on some of that stuff, too.

Why am I telling you all this? Because on Thursday, Garrett Johnson sent an e-mail to the Tallahassee Democrat saying I "misrepresented" his quotes. If you'll note in Johnson's e-mail to the Democrat, he never said he was misquoted, only "misrepresented."

There's a good reason for that: Because I had a follow-up phone conversation with Johnson on Tuesday and read him, word for word, every quote that would appear in the column.

I even allowed him to clarify his position on certain quotes. At his request, I didn't use an on-the-record comment he e-mailed to me because he felt the quote was too controversial and would insult politicians he had interned with in Tallahassee. When we hung up, he was agreeable to every quote in the column.

Now, after seeing the firestorm the column has created, his comments are suddenly "misrepresented."

1. FSU Cheating Scandal
2. Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell
3. STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels
4. No Sunshine in Florida?
5. FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

Dave Bliss Interview about Baylor Scandal

The Rocky Mountain News has interviewed Dave Bliss, the coach at the center of one of the most sordid NCAA scandals in recent history, involving the 2003 Baylor Basketball Team:

"I messed up and I hurt a lot of people. I mean, I really messed up. . . .

"I cheated because I was weak. I'm not in denial; I cheated. I take responsibility and, unfortunately, the consequences have really been terrific. . . . If I take my situation and I cower, and I go off into the hills, which is what your instinct is to do, that's not what I need to do." . . .

"I can encourage a lot of people who have messed up that God is faithful. Every day is a new day. . . . I didn't find God; I knew God all the time. I just forgot Him," said Bliss, now the president and co-founder of Interactive Occupational Training Inc., a 2-year-old Lakewood company that describes itself as an entrant in the "Web-based training industry."

"I think we're all on the road every day (to being better)," Bliss said. "I've been spanked; I can get better or bitter." . . .

Bliss' world began to fragment with the murder of Baylor junior forward Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson in 2003. The investigation led to revelations that included Bliss trying to persuade assistant coaches and players to depict Dennehy as a drug dealer who used drug money to help pay his tuition.

No criminal charges were filed against Bliss, but in the wake of Dennehy's death, Baylor's internal investigation of the men's basketball program uncovered major NCAA violations that included Bliss paying the tuition of two players (Dennehy was one), a drug-test coverup and assorted examples of players receiving "extra benefits" from Bliss and his staff. The school also was cited for "lack of institutional control."

Bliss declined to talk on the record about Dennehy, Dotson or the drug test coverup cited in the school's investigation. . . .

On a campus where walking the right path is considered paramount, Bliss, a lifelong Baptist, inexplicably wandered and took his program with him.

On Aug. 8, 2003, he resigned under pressure.

Athletic director Tom Stanton, whom Bliss said was a primary reason for coming to Baylor, also resigned the same day, believing he was accountable for the debacle in his department.

Until his final year at Baylor (2002-03), Bliss contended he had "done it right" - or stayed within NCAA rules - while heading the basketball programs at Oklahoma, SMU and New Mexico. But he noted of his nine years at SMU, "We went through a very tough time . . . because the boosters there were very proactive."

Center Jon Koncak, Bliss' best player at SMU and the fifth overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he received illegal payments from boosters while at the school.

Bliss' response: "He's said so many different things. . . . I know how he was recruited, and he never was recruited that way. What happened afterwards, I have no idea. We did try to do it right at every stop." . . .

Widely portrayed after the Baylor scandal as representing all that is insidious in sports, Bliss said he "started to analyze how I had changed, how I had gotten ambitious, how prideful I was, how I felt entitled. . . .

"What has been interesting to me is that after a period of time and I had read all the bad things said about me, I didn't agree with them. I was way worse than the face in that picture." . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grats, Bryan Mullins and Other STUDENT-Athletes

When I joined the faculty of SIU Carbondale in the fall of 2004, one of my principle worries, as someone who had never been at a DI school, was how student-athletes would impact my classroom. I need not have worried, as SIUC is one of the schools which does, in fact do things correctly. Overall, student-athletes performed, on average, at the same or a better standard than my other students. It was late in October of my first semester that one of the students in my 200-level World History class presented me with a form indicating what days he would miss as a result of away basketball games. I had a scholarship men's basketball player in my class without knowing it. I was also contacted occasionally by the athletics department when students did poorly, but the conversation was always along the line of 'What does this student need to do to improve' rather than the 'We really need this athlete to play, what can you do' which is all to common at other schools.

I also had a hotshot freshman point guard in my fall 2005 History 101 class by the name of Bryan Mullins. It was unclear to me then, as it still is now, whether his talent in the classroom or on the basketball court is greater. And it is with great satisfaction that I congratulate him on being named a second team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, the second SIUC men's basketball player in two years to receive this honor:

Junior guard Bryan Mullins was named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team on Tuesday. Last year, Jamaal Tatum was also a second-team member. Mike Glenn was a first teamer in 1976 and 1977.

Mullins is one of the most improved players in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. He is the team's third-leading scorer, averaging 11.0 ppg, and ranks second in the league in assists (5.1 apg) and steals (2.1 spg).

The 6-foot-2 point guard has a 4.0 GPA and is majoring in finance.

"We are extremely proud of what Bryan has accomplished this season on the court and throughout his career as a student-athlete," said head coach Chris Lowery. "He is an excellent ambassador for our program and our University."


Completely Irrelevant RPI Data (To the Pollsters) 2-26-08

So, who does better in determining the strength of teams? Sports writers? The secretaries for college basketball coaches? The RPI? Completely Irrelevant RPI Data is here to help you decide. And as always, do not miss Goro’s Rants.

The Hall of Shame

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Stanford 22-4 P10 (8,8, 21) +13

After several weeks stuck at the #3 spot, Stanford vaults into the top spot in this weeks’ Hall of Shame after its pedestrian home win against a pedestrian California team was rewarded with a CLIMB in the rankings. 4-1 versus the top 50 and 10-4 versus the top 100 looks good, until one considers the patsies which Stanford lined up for home consumption, yielding them the #284 Strength of Schedule out of 341 teams: #179 Yale; #182 Santa Clara; #199 Northwestern State; #220 Fresno State; #258 Colorado State; #309 Harvard. They rounded this off with #335 Sacramento State, a 4-22 team whose best win came by one point, at home, against #196 Montana State. Sorry Stanford, you are not top 10 material, and could very well go 2-2 or even 1-3 in the run up to the Pac 10 tournament.

#2 Purdue 21-6 B10 (16,19, 30) +12.5

Purdue maintains its #2 spot in the Hall of Shame this week after managing to keep its spot in the top 20 after losing on the road to an excellent Indiana team which was, however, in a tad bit of turmoil. I have said it before, and I will say it again. The Big 10 just is not that good this year. Beyond a couple wins against Texas, Big 10 teams had a distinctly undistinguished out of conference record, and Purdue is a classic example. Not only was Purdue defeated by #138 Iowa State on a neutral court, but they also lost AT HOME to #185 Wofford.

#3 Gonzaga 21-6 WCC (24,27, 33) +7.5

So where has Gonzaga been all season? Losing to all of the significant opposition it has faced since December 1, while racking up the victories versus the creampuffs. Apparently four straight wins against opposition with an average RPI of 213 was deemed sufficient to gain Gonzaga a ranking. QUE!?!? At some point the afterglow from the Elite 8 run NINE years ago needs to wear off. . .

#4-T Indiana 23-4 B10 (12,12, 19) +7

A good home against Purdue improved Indiana’s RPI more than its ranking this week, so Indiana is now in danger of falling out of the Hall of Shame entirely. We will have to see whether they are deserving. Tonight’s game against Ohio State and the tilt with Michigan State on Saturday will tell the tale. Can a Sampson-less Indiana take out top opposition?

#4-T Saint Mary’s 23-4 WCC (25,23, 31) +7

St. Mary’s joins the Hall of Shame this week after a HOME loss to Kent State was not rewarded as it should have been – by St. Mary’s dropping out of the rankings. Since knocking out Drake (at home) in the second game of the season, St. Mary’s has twice faced good opposition (at home). The results have been a squeaker of an overtime win against Gonzaga, and the loss to Kent State. St. Mary’s is not top 25 material.

Dropped from rankings:
Texas A&M (now unranked); Butler +4.5

The House of Pain

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Arizona 17-10 P10 (33,31, 16) -16

Despite maintaining its position at the top of the House of Pain, Arizona once again did itself no favors this week by losing on the road at Washington (RPI #120). They then followed this up by win on the road at RANKED Washington State. QUE!?!? ESPN has ‘Judgment Week’ correct in this case. Wins against USC and UCLA would deservedly vault Arizona into the rankings. Losses could leave Arizona as the highest RPI team to be left out of the tournament.

#2 Drake 24-3 MVC (20,20, 11) –9

Like Arizona, Drake had a yo-yo of a week. They lost by a point at home to a solid but unspectacular Bradley team, and followed that up with a successful commando raid on Hinkle Fieldhouse. While Drake deserves to be somewhere in the top 20, it is unclear WHERE in the top 20 they should be. They should NOT, however, be 6.5 slots behind Butler, a team with an identical number of losses and three FEWER quality wins. Especially when you just beat them on their home court.

#3 South Alabama 23-5 Sun Belt (31,33, 24) –8

Welcome, South Alabama, to the ranks of one of the top teams in the country outside the BCS leagues. Expect to be under-appreciated. Expect to be under-ranked. Expect to be under-seeded. Expect to have what is looking to be a 25+ win season ignored. That is, until you surprise someone with a Sweet Sixteen run. Snap to it!

#4-T Vanderbilt 23-4 SEC (18,14, 10) –6

The coaches (I mean their secretaries) have nearly got Vanderbilt right. The AP pollsters are still lagging behind. With three tough games coming up, we will see who is correct about this exceptional but under-appreciated team, who are still recovering, in the perceptions game, from a mid-season slump.

#4-T Clemson 19-7 ACC (28,30, 23) –6

Despite an away loss this past week to Florida State this past week, Clemson dropped only from a total of 43 to a total of 35 votes in the two polls combined this week. The #3 and #4 RPI teams in the ACC, Miami and Clemson, are both good. The winner of tomorrow’s matchup should find themselves ranked come next Monday.

Dropped from Rankings: Dayton (out of RPI top 25); Marquette -4

Average Conference (or State) Bias:

WCC: +7.3 (St. Mary’s, Gonzaga)
Teams from Indiana: +6.8 (Indiana, Butler, Notre Dame, Purdue)
Big 10: +5.3 (Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue)
Big 12: +.8 (Texas, Kansas)
Pac 10: +.5 (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona)
Big East: -1.3 (Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Marquette)
All Others: -1.9 (Memphis, Xavier, Butler, Drake, Kent State, Brigham Young, South Alabama)
ACC: -3 (North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Clemson)
SEC: -3 (Tennessee, Vanderbilt)

The trend, once again, is towards less significant biases. The Big 12 essentially fell into line since the pollsters finally, and belatedly, realized that Kansas State and Texas A&M are not top 25 material. The Big 10 remains over-rated, and the Hoosier love-fest continues. With an over-rated Gonzaga joining an over-rated St. Mary’s in the rankings, the West Coast Conference now joins in the action as well.

Teams with closest correlation between ranking and RPI:

1-T. Tennessee, Texas, Washington State (+/-0)
4-T. Memphis, North Carolina, Brigham Young (-.5; +.5, -.5)

Teams included in analysis:

[Any team in the top 25 of the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, or the RPI.]

Tennessee 25-2 SEC; Memphis 26-1 CUSA; North Carolina 26-2 ACC; UCLA 24-3 P10; Texas 23-4 B12; Kansas 24-3 B12; Duke 23-3 ACC; Stanford 22-4 P10; Wisconsin 23-4 B10; Xavier 24-4 A10; Georgetown 22-4 BE; Indiana 23-4 B10; Butler 25-3 HORZ; Louisville 22-6 BE; Connecticut 21-6 BE; Vanderbilt 23-4 SEC; Michigan State 22-5 B10; Notre Dame 21-5 BE; Purdue 21-6 B10; Drake 24-3 MVC; Marquette 20-6 BE; Washington State 21-6 P10; Kent State 23-5 MAC; Saint Mary’s 23-4 WCC; Gonzaga 21-6 WCC; Brigham Young 21-6 MWC; Miami 19-7 ACC; Clemson 19-7 ACC; South Alabama 23-5 Sun Belt; Arizona 17-10 P10

Sunday, February 24, 2008

IU, or IOU?

The Kelvin Sampson buyout is yet another indicator of the warped economics in DI athletics:

Counting the $750,000 given to Kelvin Sampson to resign, Indiana University has paid more than $4 million since 2000 to coaches and athletic administrators after they left the school.

As one fan noted on an IndyStar .com message board Saturday, perhaps IU should call itself IOU.

Sampson, IU's men's basketball coach until Friday night, is only the latest person to stop working for the school but is still collecting money.

Former Athletic Director Michael McNeely received the most: $839,000. Former men's basketball coach Mike Davis got $800,000.

Some others: former football coach Gerry DiNardo ($616,000), former football coach Cam Cameron ($489,000) and former men's basketball coach Bob Knight ($283,000).

Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor and one of the nation's leading experts on sports economics, said the payments are another sign of how far removed college sports is from the rest of the university.

"This whole thing has spun totally out of control," Zimbalist said. "The economic parameters are way off."

Said IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre: "That's money out of the athletic department and does not involve public funds. It's part of the cost of doing business in college athletics."

Somehow I thought the 'cost of doing business' line would appear at some point in this article. Sad.

Compared to the buyouts of some other schools' coaches, though, IU got off cheap.

In 2006, Alabama paid $4 million to buy out the contract of football coach Mike Shula. Also that year, Minnesota paid a combined $4.9 million to say goodbye to football coach Glen Mason and men's basketball coach Dan Monson.

Sampson had a contract that allowed the university to fire him "for cause" and owe nothing beyond his regular compensation for that month.

But IU officials said they were concerned about a wrongful-termination lawsuit.

With $550,000 of Sampson's buyout coming from an anonymous donor, the officials said the school paid $200,000, making it a smart business deal (although because the donation will go through the IU Foundation, it's considered university money). That's not to mention heading off months of potential acrimony.

Zimbalist, however, had a different view.

"I think it's downright outrageous that people can violate NCAA rules left and right and then walk out with $750,000," he said. "Elsewhere, when you violate the law or the rules, you go to jail or pay a fine."


Saturday, February 23, 2008

On the Bright Side: Drake at Butler

Pat Forde sums up the week darn well:

INDIANAPOLIS -- Steve Miller once sang that you've got to go through hell before you get to heaven. Now I know what he meant.

I spent the week wading through the Kelvin Sampson swamp at Indiana. Sans hazmat suit.

Then, at week's end, I drove up to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Metaphorically apt, a Friday of sleet had given way to a Saturday of sunshine. When I got out of the car at Butler University, chimes were ringing. I think I might have heard angels singing, too.

I went inside the massive old basketball cathedral, where the late-afternoon sun was slanting through the windows. Oscar Robertson won state titles here. More recently, Greg Oden won regional titles here. Most famously, Bobby Plump capped the Milan Miracle here -- and was re-enacted here by Jimmy Chitwood in "Hoosiers."

This day, the assignment was to cover Drake beating Butler 71-64 in the BracketBusters marquee game. To sum up the experience in a word: Hallelujah.

The Bulldogs Squared constituted religious ecstasy for a scandal-scarred college basketball fan. Two very good teams playing a great game in a hoops shrine, with plenty to feel reassured about on either side.

Such as three former walk-ons in the starting lineups for two ranked teams: Adam Emmenecker and Jonathan Cox of Drake, and Drew Streicher of Butler. Such as nobody thinking about turning pro after his freshman season.

Such as four Drake starters packing GPAs of 3.0 or better, led by senior guard Emmenecker and his 3.97. His transcript contains one B and four majors: management, finance, business and entrepreneurial management.

Such as Butler countering with four starters who have earned league or school academic honors, led by senior forward Streicher. He majors in chemistry on his way to med school. . . .

If Emmenecker is the soul of the Bulldogs, sophomore guard Josh Young is their star. The sweet-shooting Oklahoman went for 25 on Butler, icing the game with three free throws with 30 seconds left. He leads Drake in scoring at 16.2 ppg, another big-time performer most college scouts never saw coming.

Young said he had 36 Division I scholarship offers. (His dad, Rick, puts the number at 29.) But none of them was from the Big 12 or any other BCS conference schools.

"My parents went to Oklahoma State," Young said. "That's where I saw myself playing."

The Cowboys didn't share that vision. So Young's parents, sticklers for academics, helped point him to Drake. He's a slacker compared with Emmenecker, toting a mere double major in business management and marketing. . . .

It was nice Saturday for a die-hard college hoops fan who spent all week on Kelvin Sampson watch. To someone coming out of that hell, Drake delivered in heavenly fashion.

Commentary on Sampson's Departure

There is no end of commentary on the resignation and buy off of Hoosiers ex-coach Kelvin Sampson. Here are a a couple of the better examples:

Jay Mariotti:

It should be a tidy ending to a sleazy story, this decision by Kelvin Sampson to accept a $750,000 settlement and flee Indiana University in disgrace. But as one wretched angle fades away, another could take flight tonight in Evanston, of all places, where a number of young, impulsive basketball players might overlook that their coach was a two-time crook and continue to shame a state.

As if the Sampson scandal wasn't twisted enough in all its naked villainy, the possibility looms that some or all of his former players will boycott a game at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Northwestern. Go ahead and joke, if you must, that the entire Indiana team could stay home and still beat a bunch of NU stiffs winless in the conference. But nothing is remotely funny about the continuing fallout from one of the Big Ten's messiest episodes, which started when Indiana recklessly hired an outlaw, watched in horror as he committed the same phone-call missteps that landed him on probation while at Oklahoma, then turned Sampson's final hours into a chaotic circus that suggests a woeful lack of campus leadership. . . .

Pat Forde:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The initial damage report from a spectacularly dark day at Indiana University:

A career crashed.

A reputation frayed.

A team splintered.

An administration stumbled.

The result of Black Friday in Bloomington is a 22-4 team embroiled in unprecedented in-season chaos. Rarely, if ever, has a team this good had this much to frown about.

Whether the climax of an excellent season is torched in the backdraft of what's become a five-alarm scandal remains to be seen. That will depend in large part upon who shows up to get on the team bus to the Bloomington airport Saturday morning for the trip to play Northwestern in Evanston. . . .

Years from now, someone should do a training video on how not to handle a situation like this. Among the pointers:

• Don't give yourself a public deadline you have to struggle hysterically to meet.

• Don't let out word that you'll have a news conference at 2 p.m., and then at 4, and then at 6, if you can't get it done before 9 p.m.

·• Don't spend a day the entire state has been waiting for in total silence. There wasn't a blip of official communication from IU until after 8 p.m., when it finally announced its news conference. Reporters were left to loiter around athletic administration offices, waiting for anyone to say anything, with nobody from IU taking control of the situation.

• Don't hire a coach with a track record as a cheater.

• Don't bury a letter charging major NCAA violations in hopes that nobody will find out about it. found out and started asking questions shortly after the letter arrived. The school stonewalled. It only made the allegations public after receiving a Freedom of Information request from, and it did not announce its renewed investigation until a week after it received the letter.

• Don't pay a coach $750,000 to resign when he's committed fireable offenses and you're contractually obligated only to pay him through the end of the month.

Update 10:21 AM

From Bob Kravitz at the Indy Star, a member of the local media who was ahead of the curve every step of the way:

The university had to do what was in its best interest, and that was to cut ties with Sampson as soon as possible. Sorry, Jay Bilas, but if IU had played this out, they would have spent millions of dollars in attorney fees, would have destroyed at least one recruiting class by extending this into the summer, and likely would have been hammered by the NCAA, a group that doesn't have much sympathy for liars.

It took IU a while to get it right, and as I wrote here months ago, Sampson should have been let go when the internal investigation uncovered several violations of the terms of his probation. Instead, they withheld a $500,000 salary bonus and forced the resignation of one of his top recruiters, Rob Senderoff.

The reason was obvious: They had Eric Gordon on campus and a solid chance of not only winning the Big Ten, but advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament.

They sold their souls for a chance to grab the ring. Zero tolerance turned into a little-bit-more-than-zero tolerance. And then a whole-lot-more-than-zero tolerance. It wasn't until the NCAA dropped the bomb on IU that it did the right thing.

From start to finish, it was an unholy mess that the people at IU brought upon themselves. There's no media to blame here. There's no NCAA to blame here. . . .

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oklahoma Football: More NCAA Gutlessness

The NCAA has rescinded the most severe, and indeed the most important penalty it imposed against the Oklahoma football program in July as a result of a booster setting up 'pay for no work' jobs for players. Amongst the penalties from the original report:

Vacation of all wins in which the two ineligible student-athletes competed during the 2005 football season. The individual records of these student-athletes shall be vacated as well. Further, the university's records regarding football as well as the record of the head coach will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated wins and so recorded in all publications in which football records for the 2005 season are reported, including, but not limited to, university media guides, recruiting material, and university and NCAA archives. Finally, any public reference to these vacated contests, including the bowl game, won during this time shall be removed from athletics department stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear.
To make a long story short, the Appeals Committee held that this penalty was too severe, since it does not matter that the violations were severe and intentional given that Oklahoma immediately suspended the players and reported the violations. This is despite the fact that the INELIGIBLE athletes in question contributed to the wins which would have been vacated.

Congratulations to the NCAA. You have just issued an open invitation to systematic and inconsequential cheating by boosters.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana

According to WTHR, a local Indianapolis TV station:

Bloomington - Indiana University is making plans to finish the basketball season without Kelvin Sampson. The coach of the Hoosiers is not expected to be with the team when they play at Northwestern Saturday.

A source close to the situation tells Eyewitness Sports that officials from the IU administration have met with assistant basketball coach Dan Dakich about taking over the basketball team as interim head coach for the rest of the season. . . .

The source says that by Friday afternoon, Sampson and the university will likely reach a financial settlement ending his employment, or Sampson will be suspended pending termination under the terms of his contract. . . .

If this turns out to be true, it will represent no great surprise to anyone who has been following this story. Fortuitously, or perhaps deliberately, the Indy Star published a profile article about Dakich this morning:

Dan Dakich, who sits three seats to the right of coach Kelvin Sampson on the IU bench, is available to take over as interim coach should Sampson resign, be suspended or get fired this week.

Dakich, 45, has what many consider the perfect pedigree for the job. He's from Indiana, spent 16 seasons alongside Bob Knight at IU -- first as a player, then 12 years as an assistant coach -- and has 10 years of head coaching experience with Bowling Green.

IU assistant Ray McCallum also grew up in Indiana and has head coaching experience at Ball State and Houston, but his longtime association with Sampson might work against him. . . .

Dakich was a pedestrian player at IU, averaging 3.6 points and 1.6 rebounds over his four-year career, which concluded in 1985 when IU lost to UCLA in the NIT championship game.

He gained greater recognition as an assistant coach, first as a graduate assistant for two seasons and then as a full-time assistant for 10 before becoming head coach at Bowling Green.

Dakich compiled a 156-140 record in 10 seasons at Bowling Green. He resigned last March, telling athletic director Greg Christopher that he wasn't interested in pursuing an extension to his expiring contract.

His most controversial moment came in April 2002 when he accepted the head coaching position at West Virginia, receiving an annual pay increase from $125,000 to $500,000. He backed out and returned to Bowling Green a week later, in part after learning of a possible NCAA rules violation within West Virginia's program.

Dakich returned to IU last June as the director of basketball operations, then moved onto the bench after Rob Senderoff resigned in October in the wake of NCAA sanctions. . . .
Stay tuned!

Update (1) 2:20 PM

Fox Sports has called WTHR's 'source' and raised to 'numerous sources':

Sampson was informed early Thursday that he will no longer be the coach at Indiana, numerous sources told

The official announcement is expected to come Friday, when the university's self-imposed seven-day investigation period ends.

When asked to confirm Sampson's firing, Indiana director of media relations J.D. Campbell told, "I don't know that to be true."

Campbell also said no official announcement was currently scheduled for Friday.

Thanks so much, Campbell, for providing a classic non-denial denial.

Update (2) 2:28 PM

The AP is reporting that there will be an announcement tomorrow:
Trustee Philip Eskew Jr. told The Associated Press that he had been notified by e-mail that Indiana would have an announcement on Sampson’s status Friday, but he did not have further details.

Update (3) 2:35 PM

According to WISH, another local Indianapolis station, a buyout of Sampson's contract is being negotiated, and a team meeting has been called:

24-Hour News 8 has learned from sources close to the IU basketball program, that the school is negotiating a buyout of head coach Kelvin Sampson's contract.

Sources also tell 24-Hour News 8 that a team meeting has been called with in the hour to discuss the future of Kelvin Sampson.

Update (4) 3:24 PM

The Indiana Daily Student is reporting a couple more details:

IU spokesman Larry McIntyre told the IDS the University is expecting to hold a press conference tomorrow to discuss the future of IU coach Kelvin Sampson.

"We are sort of assuming on the basis that there is likely to be something," McIntyre said.

Additionally, McIntyre told the IDS that faculty athletic representive Bruce Jaffee and University general counsel Dorothy Frapwell had lunch with IU President Michael McRobbie, but did not know the agenda of the lunch.

Update (5) 3:45 PM

The Indy Star is reporting that everyone's sources are wrong:

Late Thursday afternoon, school officials said Web news reports of Sampson's firing were premature, although acknowledged his dismissal is still a viable option.

Athletic director Rick Greenspan is expected to submit his recommendation to president Michael McRobbie on Friday. No timetable has been set for an announcement, said Larry MacIntyre, IU's director of university communications. . . .

Web accounts reported Sampson would not coach IU's game Saturday at Northwestern, and that IU administrators had met with assistant coach Dan Dakich about replacing Sampson on an interim basis.

"Somebody is making assumptions that are not based in fact at this point," MacIntyre said.

Recall that this is the same guy who, when asked about a reporter who indicated that Rob Senderoff was about to resign in October, answered “I think that reporter does not know what he is talking about.”

Update (6) 6:20 PM

Gary Parrish at CBS Sportsline is reporting that a number of Indiana players have been told that Sampson is gone:
Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan told five IU players Thursday afternoon that their coach, Kelvin Sampson, will not be on the sidelines Saturday when the Hoosiers play at Northwestern, a source has told

According to the source, Greenspan met with D.J. White, Eric Gordon, Kyle Taber, Lance Stemler and Adam Ahlfeld. The source confirmed the earlier report by that Sampson will not coach the rest of this season but added that it remains unclear whether Sampson will officially be suspended pending a hearing with the NCAA or terminated.

Either way, the source said the players were told an official announcement will come Friday.

On other fronts, WISH TV is reporting that team members met at 3:00 to "to discuss the future of the team. None of the players would comment while leaving the meeting as to what was discussed." The AP is characterizing this as a "a regularly scheduled NCAA compliance meeting."

Update (7) 8:13 PM

An updated AP article has a couple more details, including those of a team meeting with Greenspan:

The team met with athletic director Rick Greenspan on Thursday night. Almost the entire team left en masse after the meeting about 7:45 p.m. and declined comment as they got into their cars and left the parking lot.

Meanwhile, university officials and athletic department officials spent Thursday reviewing their options.

President Michael McRobbie had a lunch meeting with university counsel Dorothy Frapwell and faculty representative Bruce Jaffee in the president's office. Frapwell and Jaffee were two of the three people asked to conduct the school's second investigation into the allegations. The third, Greenspan, could not be seen through the office's glass doors, and Frapwell and Jaffee left through a back entrance to avoid reporters.

Update (8) 12:34 PM Friday

Overnight, the most explosive new reporting came from Gary Parrish at CBS Sportsline:
A Thursday night meeting between Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan and the school's basketball team became heated when players threatened to quit if the AD follows through with a plan to remove Kelvin Sampson as the Hoosiers' coach, two sources have told

According to the sources, after Greenspan informed five selected players -- namely D.J. White, Eric Gordon, Kyle Taber, Lance Stemler and Adam Ahlfeld -- of his decision to replace Sampson he called a meeting with the entire team in an attempt to "prepare" them for Friday's official announcement that Sampson would either be suspended or terminated in time for the Hoosiers' weekend game at Northwestern. But before Greenspan finished his speech, the sources said an unidentified player stood up and insisted "if Sampson ain't coaching, we ain't playing" and that Greenspan responded with what he thought was a rhetorical question.

"Greenspan asked if he should just cancel the whole season," one source said. "And the player told him 'We don't care what you do. But if Sampson ain't coaching, we ain't playing.' And then they just walked out." . . . .

According to the sources, Greenspan asked Sampson to resign Thursday night but Sampson -- who was alleged in a report released last week to have committed five major NCAA rules violations -- rejected the request.

But there is a game of 'dueling sources' currently playing out between Parrish and Andy Katz at
"No decision was made until this morning, I cannot stress that enough," the official said in reference to various reports Thursday that claimed a decision to fire Sampson already had been made. "All those reports about it being made yesterday and of the players being told and of the team threatening not to play were not true. It's pure science fiction.

"The content of the meeting with the players was to keep them focused on the season and to [allow them to] ask questions at that time.'"
There is also this comment in the Indy Star, from a parent of one of the IU players:
The players left Greenspan's office about 7:30 p.m. Brian Stemler said his son, IU senior forward Lance Stemler, told him the meeting centered on the team, not who would coach them Saturday at Northwestern, or beyond.

"He said it was nothing about what was going to happen," Brian Stemler said. "He said it was about the season going forward. He said nothing was said about anybody taking over, that a decision was going to be made (today)."
I will continue to update here until there is an official announcement by the University, which is due for 2:00.

Update (9) 12:40 PM Friday

By engaging in what I consider to be slimeball tactics, WTHR in Indianapolis has scooped this non-denial denial regarding the player boycott from Indiana forward, and player of the year candidate D.J. White:

Eyewitness Sports has also learned that players have voiced loyalty to Coach Sampson. A source says some players are considering skipping Saturday's game against Northwestern. We asked player DJ White whether that report was true, and an irritated White responded, "I don't know who your sources are." But he added, "I'm not gonna say it's not true."

When pressed for clarification, White repeated, "The only thing I will say is, 'I will not say it's not true.'"

Harassing the players is WAY out of line. On other fronts, the 2:00 PM press conference was apparently just an ESPN rumor.

Update (10) 1:00 PM Friday

Luke Winn at Sports Illustrated is reporting a story similar to that of Gary Parrish:

The source said that in meeting with Hoosiers players on Thursday night, IU athletic director Rick Greenspan informed them of the likelihood that Sampson would no longer be their head coach -- either as a result of a termination or suspension Friday.

The players' response, according to the source? "If Sampson isn't our coach, we'll quit." The source said this was the unified sentiment of the whole team, but was first expressed by the Hoosiers' senior leadership in a smaller meeting earlier Thursday. Greenspan and the players reached a stalemate in the second meeting, with the athletic director reportedly asking them if "the whole season should just be canceled."

The source also told select players have indicated they might be willing to soften their stance on quitting if a key change was made to Greenspan's proposed plan of succession. The school reportedly wants to anoint IU assistant Dan Dakich as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, but the players' preferred choice is assistant Ray McCallum, who played a significant role in recruiting much of IU's current roster.

Update (11) 1:50 PM Friday

The AP is reporting that there was a mid-day team meeting:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - At least one Indiana basketball player who emerged from the team locker room today appeared to have tears in his eyes. . . .

A few minutes after Greenspan left the basketball coach's office, Sampson walked down ramp with his wife, Karen. Players, managers, assistant coaches and the coach's son, Kellen Sampson, then gathered in the locker room for what appeared to be a team meeting.

The meeting broke up about midday with freshman forward Eli Holman emerging with puffy eyes, looking like he was tearing up.

Update (12) 3:03 PM Friday

The Indy Star is now lining up against Katz at ESPN, and with CBS and Sports Illustrated on the issue of a potential player boycott:

Indiana University men's basketball players walked out of a Thursday night meeting with athletic director Rick Greenspan, refusing to play the rest of the season if coach Kelvin Sampson is dismissed, a person familiar with the situation said today.

During the meeting, Greenspan told players about what course of action the school might take regarding Sampson, the source said. The source was told Jamarcus Ellis walked out of the meeting.

IU plays at Northwestern on Saturday. The source said players will follow the lead of D.J. White.

"As far as them playing, it depends on D.J.," the source said. "He's the leader. He's the cornerstone. Whatever D.J. does, they're all going to do."

The players met again today. Afterward, WTHR-13 asked White if the players were planning a boycott.

"The only thing I will say is, 'I will not say it's not true,'" the station quoted him as saying.
Asked if the players are still planning to walk out after today's meeting, the source said, "I know they were. I don't know if they are now."

The players want assistant Ray McCallum to take over if Sampson is going because McCallum was involved in recruiting several of them, the source said.

Update (13) 4:50 PM Friday

The Hoosier Scoop, an Indiana sports blog is reporting that six players were absent from today's practice, which was led by assistant Dan Dakich:

Dan Dakich is coaching IU’s basketball team in practice, but a number of the key Hoosier players are not there.

As far as we can tell, D.J. White, Jamarcus Ellis, Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee are not at practice. That leaves IU with seven players practicing and six not there.

We don’t know exactly what that means, but it seems ominous after the reports today that players have been talking about a walk-out for Saturday’s game at Northwestern.
According to chatter on the Indiana message boards, there was, indeed, a boycott of practice.

Update (14) 6:35 PM Friday

Confirmation from the Indy Star:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Kelvin Sampson will meet with his team tonight and encourage them to play in Saturday's game at Northwestern regardless of his situation, a person close to the team said today.

Six players, including D.J. White, Armon Bassett, Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford, did not show up for a scheduled practice today at Assembly Hall.

Another person close to the team said players have threatened to boycott Saturday's game if Sampson is not the coach, and the team will follow D.J. White's lead on whether to play.

Update (15) 6:41 PM Friday

Katz is reporting on ESPN that a $750,000 buyout has been negotiated, and Dakich will take over as coach.

Update (16) 7:42 PM Friday

Confirmation from the AP through an official Indiana channel:
Indiana University spokesman Larry MacIntyre says the school has agreed to a $750,000 buyout with basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. Assistant Dan Dakich takes over as interim head coach.

Senior captain D.J. White, Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee skipped Dakich's first practice Friday afternoon. It is unknown if they will play when the 15th-ranked Hoosiers travel to Northwestern on Saturday.
Goodman at Fox News reports that there is now only one thing lacking:
"We don't have his signature," Indiana spokesman Larry MacIntyre told "His attorney is still reviewing a separation agreement with those terms. It could be signed at any moment."

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Central Oklahoma put on Probation for Football Violations

The NCAA has placed the University of Central Oklahoma on three years probation, in addition to imposing scholarship reductions, telecast bans, and a two year show-cause hiring penalty on the ex head coach, Chuck Langston:

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions has penalized the University of Central Oklahoma for a number of major and secondary violations in the football program. This case involved failure to monitor and unethical conduct violations against the former head coach, as well as a lack of institutional control for the university.

Penalties for the violations include placing the college on three years of probation; a reduction in available scholarships; and ineligibility for telecast opportunities during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. In addition, the former head coach was given a two-year show-cause penalty. . . .

The violations involved six two-year prospective student-athletes recruited to the university by the football coaching staff from spring 2003 to spring 2005. These prospective student-athletes transferred from the two-year college where the former head coach previously was employed prior to coming to Central Oklahoma. These young men were part of a large group of 40 two-year college prospective student-athletes recruited by the university during the former head coach's tenure.

Some of the young men arrived in the area without visible means of support and before they were qualified for admission and athletics competition or aid. Once they were in the vicinity of the campus, but before they were enrolled full-time at the university, the young men were provided impermissible benefits including medical treatments, the use of institutional facilities, as well as free housing, meals and transportation. The benefits were provided by members of the athletics staff, including coaches and enrolled student-athletes. The university paid the costs of surgery for one prospective student-athlete prior to his enrollment in the total amount of $4,772, and on one occasion an assistant coach supplied one of the young men with a $200 cash payment.

The former head coach, who either knew or should have known of the impermissible benefits, failed to meet his responsibility to monitor the football program. Further, once an investigation into the violations began, the former head coach instructed one of the prospective student-athletes to provide false information to the investigators. The committee found this action constituted unethical conduct.

The committee also found that these violations were compounded by the university's lack of institutional control over its athletics program. It noted in its report that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrate that the university failed to exercise institutional control and monitoring in the conduct and administration of its athletics program from January 2003 through August 2006.

The report notes that the football coaching staff was able to take advantage of the university's compliance shortcomings and facilitate the impermissible activities until August 2006, when information received in the conference office prompted an investigation. . . .

The full report can be found here.

The story began in August, when Central Oklahoma was notified of violations, and responded by suspending Langston for a grand total of two weeks, in addition to imposing a one-year recruiting ban. Langston ended up coaching out the rest of the season, but was fired on November 14. The statement made by President W. Roger Webb at that time made no mention of the looming NCAA sanctions, but did, of course, mention how much he had enjoyed his relationship with Langston.

Central Oklahoma has not yet responded to a request for comment on the sanctions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Completely Irrelevant RPI Data (To the Pollsters) 2-19-08

So, who does better in determining the strength of teams? Sports writers? The secretaries for college basketball coaches? The RPI? Completely Irrelevant RPI Data is here to help you decide.

The Hall of Shame

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Texas A&M 20-5 B12 (22,22, 39) +17

The already overrated Aggies vault into the #1 spot in this weeks’ Hall of Shame after an inexcusable HOME loss to an unexceptional Oklahoma State team was only penalized by a six spot drop in the polls. The only thing keeping them in the polls would seem to be what should be a long-forgotten home win against Texas. The Aggies Strength of Schedule stands at #207, and their OOC schedule included home wins against the following powerhouse teams: #224 McNeese State; #261 Florida A&M; #269 Texas State; #270 Rice; #286 Detroit; #292 Arkansas Pine Bluff; Non-DI Ouchita Baptist.

#2 Purdue 21-5 B10 (14,15, 28) +13.5

Purdue drops to a distant second in this weeks’ Hall of Shame. To a certain extent the win against Michigan State illustrates that they are growing into their ranking, but I will say it again. 12-1 in the Big 10 this year is not saying a lot. This is best illustrated by the fact that Purdue lost to #124 Iowa State on a neutral court, and lost AT HOME to #167 Wofford. Furthermore, Purdue’s Strength of Schedule stands at #236, and they lined up 6 RPI 232+ patsies at home.

#3 Stanford 21-4 P10 (9,9, 20) +11

Stanford squeaked out a one-point win on the road this week, at Arizona. But this is the bottom line. Top 10 teams WIN their games on the road against unexceptional opposition like Arizona State. A Strength of Schedule of #283, and OOC home wins against 8 RPI 203+ opponents could be forgiven. For a team ranked 16+.

#4 Butler 24-2 Horz (8,8, 18) +10

After a week on the sidelines, Butler re-joins the Hall of Shame after seeing their ranking rise again on the strength of defeating two teams that ANY team in the top 25 should have no problems with. Their over-ranking is best illustrated by comparison with fellow ‘mid-major’ Drake, which has an identical record but is ranked at an average of #17 this week. Both teams have six top 100 wins, in very similar ranges (Butler 47,55,67,72,84,87; Drake 53,53,55,70,70,86). The only significant differences in their resumes comes in Strength of Schedule, in which Drake is far superior at #85 as opposed to #161. The idiocy of the pollsters is however, best illustrated by the fact that Drakes two losses came against teams that are at #27 and #55 in the RPI while Butler’s two losses came against teams #64 and #84 in the RPI. In any case, we will get to see which is the better team when they play on Saturday.

#5 Indiana 21-4 B10 (15,14, 23) +8.5

With their RPI improving as a result of splitting two home games against tough opponents, and their poll rankings degrading as a result of splitting two home games against tough opponents (which, of course, makes complete sense) Indiana (the team) barely remains in this weeks Hall of Shame, although the Indiana (the state) bias is still very much in evidence. Frankly, however, I am now nearly comfortable with Indiana’s ranking.

Dropped from Rankings: Kansas State +5.5

The House of Pain

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Arizona 15-9 P10 (30,33, 17) –14.5

In a week when they once again did itself no favors, this time by losing at home against Stanford, Arizona ‘improves’ to take the top spot in the House of Pain. Shockingly enough, Arizona is now in danger of finding itself on the bubble come selection Sunday, as their record now stands at 6-6 in the Pac 10. They really need to win 4 of their last 6 regular season games to be comfortable, despite the lofty RPI and the #1 Strength of Schedule in the country.

#2 Dayton 17-7 A10 (NR,NR, 24) -13

To tell you the truth, I am a bit sick of talking about a Dayton team which does not belong anywhere near the top 25 after dropping six of their last nine games. Winning 4 of their last five MIGHT still get Dayton into the tournament, but it is more likely that they will be the highest RPI team to be deservedly left out of the NCAA tournament.

#3-T Marquette 18-6 BE (25,24, 16) –8.5

After a week in which Marquette demolished a decent Seton Hall team, and soundly defeated an excellent Pittsburgh team, it is unclear why a team with a robust Strength of Schedule (#12) and fewer patsies on their schedule than normal is not sniffing the top 20.

#3-T Clemson 19-6 ACC (28,31, 21) –8.5

I argued last week that Clemson did not quite deserve a ranking. This week, I would have put them in my top 25. They are 4-1 during February, with the only loss coming in Double Overtime AT North Carolina. The pollsters are taking notice as well. Clemson went from 7 votes to 43 votes combined over the past week.

#5-T Drake 23-2 MVC (16,18, 9) –8 [See above under Butler]

#5-T Vanderbilt 22-4 SEC (20,16, 10) –8

Slowly and surely, but belatedly, the Pollsters are beginning to realize that Vanderbilt is one of the top teams in the country. The crazy thing is that it took Vanderbilt handing Kentucky its worse ever loss (93-52) in SEC play to get them to take notice. After going 5-0 in February it is clear that Vandy’s mid-season slump was just a mid-season slump.

Dropped from rankings: Mississippi (out of RPI top 25)

Average Conference (or State) bias:

Teams from Indiana: +9 (Butler, Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame)
Big 12: +5.5 (Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State)
Big 10: +5.1 (Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State)
All Others: +2.1 (Memphis, Butler, Drake, Saint Mary’s)
Pac 10: +.4 (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona)
ACC: -3 (North Carolina, Duke, Clemson)
Big East: -3.7 (Georgetown, Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Marquette, Pittsburgh)
SEC: -4.5 (Tennessee, Vanderbilt)
Atlantic 10: -6.5 (Xavier, Dayton)

The overall biases are slowly restricting as the end of the season approaches, although the overall pattern remains: the Atlantic 10 is still not being taken seriously, and the pollsters continue to serve up Hoosier love.

Teams with the closest correlation between ranking and RPI:

1. Xavier (+/-0)
2. Kansas (+.5)
3-T. Memphis, Tennessee, North Carolina, UCLA, Texas, Connecticut (+1; -1; +1; +1; -1; -1)

Teams included in analysis:

[Any team in the top 25 of the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, or the RPI.]

Memphis 25-0 CUSA; Tennessee 23-2 SEC; North Carolina 24-2 ACC; Kansas 24-2 B12;
Duke 22-2 ACC; UCLA 22-3 P10; Texas 21-4 B12; Butler 24-2 Horz; Stanford 21-4 P10;
Wisconsin 21-4 B10; Xavier 21-4 A10; Georgetown 20-4 BE; Connecticut 20-5 BE; Purdue 21-5 B10; Indiana 21-4 B10; Drake 23-2 MVC; Vanderbilt 22-4 SEC; Washington State 20-5 P10; Michigan State 20-5 B10; Louisville 20-6 BE; Notre Dame 19-5 BE; Saint Mary’s 22-3 WCC; Texas A&M 20-5 B12; Kansas State 18-6 B12; Marquette 18-6 BE; Pittsburgh 19-6 BE; Clemson 19-6 ACC; Arizona 15-9 P10; Dayton 17-7 A10.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?

Andy Katz has scooped a significant interview in the case, with ex-assistant Rob Senderoff:

Former Indiana assistant Rob Senderoff said Friday that he didn't lie to NCAA investigators when he met with them after he left his position at the school in October.

Senderoff declined to comment about the allegation that Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson didn't tell the truth to investigators, a charge that helped push the allegations to "major" status. He did say he told the truth to the NCAA. If confirmed by NCAA investigators, that could substantiate that Senderoff knowingly helped violate Sampson's restrictions which were placed on the Indiana head coach by the committee on infractions from May 25, 2006 to May 24, 2007. . . .

Senderoff said he didn't give false information to the NCAA. He said the only false statement he made was to Indiana when he incorrectly signed a home phone log sheet saying he didn't make any recruiting calls from his house. He now says he made 15. The Notice of Allegations does specify that Senderoff did submit the false recruiting call documentation to Indiana's compliance staff.

"I signed the call log that I didn't make recruiting calls from home when in fact I did," Senderoff said. "I was not untruthful to the NCAA nor will I be. I never lied to the NCAA. I want to make it clear I was not charged with lying to the NCAA enforcement staff."

Senderoff, who resigned in late October, said he can't comment on the specifics of the case but "I'll have my chance when I sit in front of the committee [of infractions] in June [in Seattle]."


On other fronts, President McRobbie has announced an investigation, which will probably last a week, into the new allegations against Sampson. Indiana is apparently following the letter of his contract religiously, while at the same time laying the groundwork for his removal, the procedure for which is set out as follows:

C. Procedures for Termination for Just Cause. "Just Cause" sufficient to satisfy the provisions of Section 6.02.B hereof shall initially be determined by the Director of Athletics of the University. Once such determination is made, the Director of Athletics shall have the administrative authority to order suspension of the Employee from his duties without pay pending termination of this Agreement, provided that notice of any such suspension pending termination shall be delivered to the Employee in writing, detailing the reasons for such suspension and setting forth a reasonable time within which the Employee may respond.

The Employee shall have the procedural right, upon written request, to a review relating to any such suspension ordered by the Director of Athletics pending termination. Such written request shall be sent to the President of the University. . . . The President's decision will be final.

If the Employee fails to request such review within ten (10 days) after receipt of notice of suspension pending termination, this Agreement shall be terminated for the causes cited in such notice."

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell

When T.K Wetherell became President of Florida State in 2003, he inherited an athletics program which did not so much resemble a carpet under which a great deal of dirt had been swept as an overflowing cesspool. There is much to criticize about his tenure, but, giving credit where credit is due, that cesspool has now almost completely drained. Even before the cheating scandal broke in the fall, he had taken steps to remove former Athletic Director David Hart Jr., who had been hired under the former regime, action which now appears to display remarkable foresight. Yesterday, Wetherell, and new Athletic Director Randy Spetman announced the self-imposed punishments for the sordid behavour of the Athletic Department's academic support staff. The following piece by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel is only slightly hyperbolic:
There was a time when I believed "self-imposed punishment" was the biggest oxymoron in sports since recruiting ethics, fun run and student-athlete. That all changed Thursday.

Did you see what the Florida State Masochists did? They didn't just slap themselves on the wrist; they slashed themselves on the wrist. They took the hammer of justice and hit themselves squarely between the eyes with it. They took the parental paddle and administered several butt-stinging whacks on their own backsides. They looked down at the speedometer, saw they were speeding and suspended their own driver's license.

Good for Florida State for not whitewashing an academic scandal that has created a black cloud over the entire university. Good for school President T.K. Wetherell for refusing to candy-coat a cheating ring that has jeopardized FSU's national reputation as an institution of higher learning. . . .

Admit it, you thought Florida State was going to come out with a list of meaningless, milquetoast sanctions, didn't you? You know, penalties like (1) No postseason appearances by the coed water polo team, (2) The track and field team loses one steeplechase scholarship and, (3) The immediate disbandment of the Darryl Dickey Fan Club. . . .

Hopefully this internal investigation will derail critics of Wetherell who claim he is a university president who meddles too much in athletic affairs. In general, these accusations may have some merit, but in this specific case Wetherell did what he had to do. . . .
It is his responsibility. I applaud him for his 'meddling'. There is too little of it.
He knew he couldn't afford to let athletic department officials handle this matter, because he saw how ineptly they investigated the Adrian McPherson gambling transgressions a few years ago. If Wetherell made a mistake, it was leaving the athletic department hierarchy intact after the McPherson incident was embarrassingly allowed to blow up into a full-fledged federal investigation.

This time, though, Wetherell left nothing to chance. He and his staff took charge of the academic investigation as soon as they got wind athletes were involved. And instead of trying to sweep it under the rug, they took the rug out back and beat the dirt out of it with a baseball bat. . . .

Back in another time during another scandal, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier mockingly referred to FSU as Free Shoes University. But after seeing the course Wetherell charted during this internal investigation, another acronym comes to mind.

FSU -- Forceful, Stringent, Uncompromising.
Perhaps, Dr. Wetherell, it is time to dispose of Bobby Bowden as well?

1. FSU Cheating Scandal
2. Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell
3. STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels
4. No Sunshine in Florida?
5. FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"

Kelvin Sampson still had his defenders back in October. They have abandoned him. The most remarkable thing about the reaction to Indiana University's release of the NCAA report has been the universal condemnation of his actions. When scandal strikes, most fans on message boards tend to rally around around their team and coach, but significant support for Sampson has been lacking on boards such as Hoosier Basketball Nation. Sports columnists have also been sharpening their pens. Here is as good an example of their activity as any, by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- This is what happens when you hire sleaze.

If basketball coach Kelvin Sampson is on the Indiana University sideline beyond this morning, then shame on the newly installed school president, Michael McRobbie, shame on the IU trustees and shame on athletic director Rick Greenspan, who will soon learn the hard way that when you hire sleaze, you get covered in the sleaze.

Since Sampson wasn't noble enough to resign after Wednesday night's 68-66 loss to Wisconsin -- he should have done it for the good of the school and specifically his players -- it's up to the IU administration to do it for him. The sooner Sampson is set adrift, the greater the likelihood that the NCAA will soften the blows it figures to land on this program down the line.
He betrayed the university's trust.

And now, he must pay. . . .

If IU won't fire him because it's the right thing to do, maybe it will because it's in the program's best interest.

The damage to this program will be irreparable, and it will make future recruiting impossible. The NCAA hearing will continue throughout the summer, throughout recruiting season, and recruits will have questions: Will Sampson still be the coach in the future? Will the program be sanctioned, maybe subjected to a postseason ban? What player in his right mind would come to Bloomington?

Sampson, whose moral compass is broken beyond repair, thinks the people around him are a bunch of rubes who can be bought off by shiny recruits and 20-win seasons.

You can blame Sampson for only part of this. A lot of the blame falls on the people who scoured the country and thought the best person to take this plum job was a guy with a terrible graduation rate and an NCAA charge hanging over his head.

Greenspan will probably take the fall for this, whether he fully endorsed Sampson's hiring or not. Still, Greenspan was up there at that introductory news conference, singing Sampson's praises and making the case for his tainted hire, and if you stand with him, you fall with him.

Unfortunately, there's no way to make former school president Adam Herbert accountable for this mistake. But how about the trustees? Where were the school's top decision-makers when Sampson's checkered history was being recounted?

Here's what should happen: Sampson gets fired. Greenspan gets fired. Assistant coach Jeff Meyer gets fired. Assistant coach Dan Dakich, who arrived on the scene this season, has the Bob Knight seal of approval and hasn't been around long enough to have become covered in sleaze. Make him the interim head coach.
There you have it President McRobbie. An immediate action plan. You did not create the swamp, but you inherited it. It is incumbent upon you to drain it.

Update (1) 3:51 PM

Andy Katz is reporting at ESPN that Sampson could be gone before Saturday:
Kelvin Sampson's status as coach of Indiana's basketball team appears it will be decided on a game-by-game basis.

Discussions about whether Sampson would coach Wednesday night's game against Wisconsin went on as late as the afternoon preceding the game, according to a source close to the situation.

A source told that there is an air of uncertainty on the staff regarding Sampson's status and whether he'll finish out the season. Sampson met with his staff Tuesday into the night and again on Wednesday.

Indiana (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) could choose to suspend Sampson from coaching games while it figures out its options without having to fire him. . . .

Larry MacIntyre, the assistant vice president for university communications, said IU president Michael McRobbie has met with the school's legal counsel, the board of trustees and athletic director Rick Greenspan. . . .

MacIntyre said there are no plans for a news conference Thursday or Friday, but he said he's "not going on vacation" and is prepared to quickly organize one if needed.

Indiana is reviewing all of its legal options to avoid a lawsuit similar to what Ohio State went through with former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien, has learned. . . .
See also Andy Gemmill at the Indy Star:

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie has been consulting with senior administrators about allegations of NCAA rule violations and dishonesty against basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, a university spokesman said today.
The first-year president is weighing his own disappointment over the allegations and the need to handle a personnel matter appropriately, said Larry MacIntyre, assistant vice president for communications.

"The president is very much aware of the public sentiment right now," he said. "He knows that our fans are disappointed and he is equally disappointed. But he has a responsibility to do things in a manner that are legally and ethically right."

The final decisions on the university's response to the allegations rests with McRobbie, MacIntyre said.
Reading the tea leaves, it would appear that Indiana is looking to get rid of Sampson as soon as possible, but at the same time avoid getting sued by him.

Update (2) 4:40 PM

Another detail in an updated version of Katz's story:
Another source said Thursday that a buyout of Sampsons contract could be considered, as well. Sampson doesn't plan on resigning because it could be too much of a financial loss, and he would prefer to coach the Hoosiers this season, a source said.
It would not be to much of a stretch to assume from this that Sampson has already been asked to resign.

Update (3) 9:45 PM

The Indy Star is reporting that Sampson will stay in place for the time being, and that there will be a news conference tomorrow to detail a new, expedited investigation by Indiana University:
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie will announce Friday athletic director Rick Greenspan will review a new IU investigation into NCAA allegations against basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and offer a recommendation within a matter of days, a person close to the situation said this evening. . . .

If Greenspan recommends that Sampson should be fired, Sampson's contract calls for a 10-day appeal process by which he could challenge the termination. At that point, IU would suspend him of his coaching duties.

At Friday's news conference, McRobbie will explain the investigation procedure and name those who will conduct the investigation. The investigation will involve only the new allegations that surfaced in the NCAA’s report which was released Wednesday. . . .

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure