- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Milwaukee has emerged as the most likely landing spot for former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson.
The Milwaukee Bucks, specifically.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Sampson and the Bucks are discussing an assistant coach's role at the urging of new Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
Skiles has targeted two men who worked in the college game this season -- Sampson and University of New Mexico associate head coach Craig Neal -- to be part of his first staff in Milwaukee. Sources say Wisconsin native and former Bucks forward Joe Wolf, who has coached two teams in the D-League, is another candidate.
Since his forced resignation from Indiana in February, Sampson has spent the past two months with the San Antonio Spurs as an unofficial observer. Sampson was summoned to Texas by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, with whom he has remained close since they worked together as assistants under Denver Nuggets coach George Karl on Team USA in 2002.
Sampson left Indiana in February, accepting a $750,000 buyout in exchange for his resignation and waiving his right to seek further damages from the university after an NCAA report charged the 52-year-old with five major NCAA recruiting violations.
But further sanctions against Indiana and/or Sampson are possible in mid-June when the school's basketball program is subjected to a face-to-face examination in Seattle from the NCAA's infractions committee.
Sampson continues to attend of all of San Antonio's games and practices in his unofficial capacity and traveled Thursday with the team to Phoenix for Friday's Game 3 of the Spurs' first-round series against the Suns. Neither he nor Skiles could be immediately reached for comment.
Sampson has said previously, however, that he intends to defend himself against the NCAA charges at Indiana's scheduled meeting before the infractions committee in June. Sampson could face a "show-cause" penalty at that hearing, meaning that any NCAA school that attempted to hire him during a show-cause period -- typically in the two- to five-year range -- would have to go in front of the infractions committee to determine whether Sampson would be subject to any further sanctions.
Sampson accepted the Indiana job in March 2006 and two months later was penalized by the NCAA for making 577 impermissible phone calls between 2000 and 2004 while coaching Oklahoma.
The latest round of charges against him emerged in October, when an Indiana investigation found that Sampson and his staff made more than 100 impermissible calls while still under recruiting restriction. Sampson was also accused of making at least 10 three-way calls in another violation of his Oklahoma punishment.
Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan called those violations "secondary," imposing a one-year extension of the NCAA's recruiting restrictions and withdrawing a $500,000 raise for Sampson. The Hoosiers also canceled one scholarship for the 2008-09 season.
But an NCAA report released Feb. 13 by Indiana alleged that Sampson provided false and misleading information to investigators from both the university and the NCAA, failed to meet the "generally recognized high standard of honesty" expected in college sports and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the program.
Sampson, who has denied intentionally providing investigators with false information, led the Hoosiers into the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2006-07 and had them in position to contend for a Big Ten title this season.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.
21mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
2hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins