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

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