Heading down the stretch of Indiana University’s most successful regular seasons in years, the team is 22-4 with a handful of regular season games to go, the Hoosiers will have to make do the rest of the way with an interim coach, Dan Dakich, due to the resignation of Kelvin Sampson on Feb. 22.
When Kelvin Sampson was hired a couple of years ago to try to restore the Indiana basketball program, there was an NCAA investigation concerning excessive phone calls to prospective recruits at Oklahoma University, his then employer. It was made clear to Sampson by Indiana athletic officials that if there was a repeat performance at IU, that he, Sampson, would be fired. So what does Sampson do? Essentially the same thing he did that got OU in hot water with the NCAA after his departure.
I don’t believe that Kelvin Sampson is so stupid as to commit almost exactly the same infractions as he was accused of at Oklahoma. If Kelvin Sampson’s problem is not stupidity, then what would possess the man to do this? Arrogance, that’s what. There can be no other explanation other than the Jerry Tarkanian battle cry from the past of “the NCAA is out to get me”. But when a coach is accused of almost exactly the same rules violations at two different schools, that just doesn’t wash.
Apparently, Sampson, who for years carefully cultivated a clean image at Washington State and Oklahoma, must have thought because he got off scot free after leaving a mess at OU that he was bulletproof. That he could do whatever he wanted in recruiting and because Indiana University has always had a squeaky clean image, unlike the outlaw image of Oklahoma University, the NCAA would look the other way at major infractions. Or at least , that’s the only thing I can figure. This guy was formerly the President of the National Association Of Basketball Coaches, and in a bit of irony was disciplined by the Ethics Committee of the NABC, a committee that Kelvin Sampson founded.
At Oklahoma, no matter what the basketball team accomplished, the roundballers would always take a back seat to the football Sooners. After years of having his name brought up for nearly every major basketball program head coaching vacancy, when the Indiana Hoosiers came calling, Sampson finally appeared to have a basketball first school. A school that had great fan support, national recognition, prestige and basketball tradition. So Sampson took his defensive oriented, ultra-physical style to Bloomington. The ugly, WWF-type halfcourt, brawling style would fit well in the Big 10, or so it seemed.
After the tradition established at IU, Bobby Knight winning three national championships there and all, one would think with all the Hoosiers have to offer that the coach wouldn’t have to violate the rules to get premier recruits. There are many high school basketball players available to Indiana that Oklahoma couldn’t get due to the Hoosiers fan support and roundball tradition.
It appears that Kelvin Sampson’s zeal to win the national championship got the better of him. Now, with possibly his best chance to claim the big prize, he will have to watch Dan Dakich lead the Hoosiers into the NCAA tourney. In exchange for agreeing not to sue Indiana University, Sampson has resigned and taken a settlement of $750,000, with $550,000 reportedly coming from one booster.
Kelvin Sampson may have thrown his basketball coaching career away in this scandal. His halfcourt style doesn’t translate well into the NBA and what college program would touch him the next few years after NCAA violations of almost identical nature at his last two schools? It’s a sad story, but Kelvin Sampson can’t say he wasn’t warned.