IU supports NCAA findings on Sampson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Indiana University believes there is enough evidence to show former coach Kelvin Sampson provided false and misleading information to investigators, didn’t appropriately monitor his staff and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance during his 1 1/2 -year tenure at the school.

The revelations were made in a 96-page case summary detailing the NCAA’s four major accusations against Sampson, his staff and the Hoosiers. The report was sent to the school last week and was released publicly Thursday after The Associated Press made a Freedom of Information request.

University officials agreed with most of the facts outlined by the NCAA although they only acknowledged there was enough evidence to support the charges of providing false and misleading information to investigators and contended some of the violations should be classified as secondary.

Athletic department officials declined comment Thursday through spokesman J.D. Campbell. Campbell has said nobody from the university will comment until after Indiana’s hearing before the infractions committee next week in Seattle.

The Milwaukee Bucks said Sampson, who is now an assistant to Scott Skiles, was not available for comment Thursday. In an introductory news conference in Milwaukee last month, Sampson said he wouldn’t discuss the circumstances surrounding his exit from Indiana until after the NCAA hearing.

The report provides new details into allegations that first rocked the Hoosiers’ men’s basketball program in October. Among the evidence in the report is a series of interview transcripts from recruits, their parents or coaches, painting a picture of how the calls transpired.

Sampson contends he was unaware he was participating in three-way calls.

“I don’t want to give you misinformation, but I believe, uh, uh, uh, I would believe that coach (Rob) Senderoff called me, you know, and that’s when they started to flop the phones, you know,” recruit DeJuan Blair told NCAA investigators on Dec. 11. “They were both on the phone, I’m, they both was on the phone talking, we all was on the phone.”

Sampson has repeatedly denied any intentional wrongdoing and sent his own response to the NCAA last month, arguing he was never given a fair chance to make his case.

He and his staff are accused of making more than 100 impermissible calls, and Sampson has continued to say he was forthcoming with investigators. He accepted a $750,000 buyout to leave the school in February.

Former Indiana assistants Rob Senderoff and Jeff Meyer, who also were implicated in the scandal, are no longer at the school, and Sampson’s other two assistants, Dan Dakich and Ray McCallum, also have left Indiana.

The school initially reported the infractions as secondary violations, but the NCAA upgraded the charges to major violations because there were so many calls during the 12 months Sampson faced recruiting restrictions for a previous phone-call scandal at Oklahoma.

This time, at least seven recruits told NCAA investigators they participated in three-way calls with Sampson, while the mothers of two players said they also took part in three-party calls, which were banned as part of Sampson’s punishment.

Sampson argued he often did not know who was calling because the recruits had many different cell phone numbers, and when he took calls at his home, the caller identification did not show up until the second or third ring. Sampson said his home phone went to voicemail on the second ring.

The NCAA called that explanation far-fetched.

“It is impossible for the enforcement staff to corroborate this statement, but the enforcement staff notes that Sampson provided no verification of the statement,” the report said. “The enforcement staff also points out it would have been illogical for Sampson to have had his phone system up in this manner because by doing so, it would have greatly increased the chance he would have missed a call from a prospect.”

Recruits, parents and coaches repeatedly told investigators that Senderoff, now an assistant at Kent State, initiated the calls before putting Sampson on the phone. In some cases, they said, Senderoff gave them the phone to speak with Sampson. Other times, the calls were patched through to Sampson.

Either way, the end result was the same.

“I was talking to the assistant coach at first and he called the head coach and put him on three-way,” William Buford Jr. said in his interview. “Yes, he (Senderoff) let him know who I was.”

Throughout the report, Sampson questions the veracity of the interviewees by citing mistakes they made in citing the dates and times of the calls as well as events that were discussed during the calls.

But the NCAA dismisses Sampson’s arguments by saying additional interviews corroborated the original statements, other witnesses were present during some of the calls and that there was no reason for the interviewees to fabricate stories.

The NCAA also included a series of what it called contradictions in Sampson’s testimony. Included was a Jan. 29 interview with the NCAA in which Sampson was asked about a specific call, which one of the recruits testified to. Sampson responded: “I was not involved in a, uh, conversation with a recruit with Coach Senderoff.”