Sampson joins Skiles' staff with Bucks, keeps quiet on Indiana ordeal
MILWAUKEE -- Kelvin Sampson wants to restore his reputation and continue his career, and hopes he took a step in that direction by accepting a job as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
But Sampson will pass on the chance to explain his version of a messy divorce with Indiana University until after an NCAA hearing in mid-June.
"More will come out, and I'll be more than happy to talk after that," Sampson said.
Sampson's new boss, Bucks coach Scott Skiles, cautioned people not to jump to conclusions about Sampson's character.
"Maybe when this all comes out, it will end up not being as serious as originally thought," Skiles said.
Sampson, who resigned from Indiana Feb. 22 and accepted a $750,000 buyout after an NCAA report charged him with five major rules violations, agreed to become an assistant to Skiles earlier this month and was introduced in a news conference Monday.
Sampson said his reputation is "very important" to him, but only knows one way to regain it.
"Just be who I've been my entire life," Sampson said. "Sometimes you take hits that you have to overcome, but that's something that I just work at as I go forward."
Skiles said Sampson deserved another chance.
"I've been the direct beneficiary of second and third chances in my own life, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to return the favor for some things people did for me," Skiles said.
But Skiles said that wasn't the main reason he hired Sampson.
"The big, big reason is that he's a hell of a coach," Skiles said.
Bucks general manager John Hammond said the team didn't have any concerns about Sampson's character.
"The circumstances that are involved in the NCAA are completely different from the NBA," Hammond said. "I don't want to say they're non-factors, but our game's a different game. Our rules are different, and how we handle things. So he's going to get a fresh start here in the NBA and I think he's going to be a great one."
Sampson wasn't willing to talk about the circumstances behind his exit from Indiana on Monday, but he and his legal team recently issued a 75-page response to the NCAA's allegations.
The main theme of Sampson's response was that the coach didn't knowingly -- a word that appeared in italics in the text -- violate the recruiting restrictions the NCAA put in place after the Hoosiers hired Sampson in 2006.
Sampson wrote that his life "has been a nightmare" and his family has "suffered profoundly" along with him.
"I have been judged by many in the media and public to be a cheat and a liar and I have lost my job -- all long before I will have had an opportunity to present my case to you," Sampson wrote.
Indiana is scheduled to appear before the infractions committee June 14 in Seattle. Sampson and new Indiana coach Tom Crean both are expected to attend the hearing.
Sampson praised Crean, a close friend who left Marquette to become his replacement.
"Tom will do great," Sampson said. "He's an outstanding person, excellent coach. I think it's a great fit. Tom would do well anywhere, though. He's just really good at what he does, he's very conscientious, will get kids to compete and play."
Sampson took 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 second wave of charges emerged in October when a university investigation found Sampson and his staff made more than 100 impermissible calls while still under recruiting restrictions. Sampson also was said to have participated in at least 10 three-way calls, another violation of the NCAA's punishment.
At the time, the school imposed additional sanctions upon itself but Sampson seemed likely to keep his job. But an NCAA report released in February by Indiana said Sampson provided false and misleading information to investigators.
He resigned, and now will try to resume his career in the NBA.
He'll be learning on the job, spending most of his career in college until he became an informal consultant to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in recent months.
Based on that experience, Sampson said he didn't see a huge difference between professional and college players.
"I think everybody wants to be coached," Sampson said. "That's the thing that really jumped out at me, watching 'Pop,' and he has an unbelievable staff. Just watching him on a daily basis, how eager from Tim Duncan to Jacque Vaughn and everybody in between, those guys really embrace being coached."
And Sampson's commitment to the NBA appears to be a long-term one.
"As far as a career path, I'm committed to doing this and learning it and being as good as I can at it," Sampson said. "And I consider myself fortunate to be on a staff with a veteran guy like Scott that's had a lot of success."
Sampson chuckled at the thought of traveling to Indianapolis to play the Pacers, knowing he'll likely face a harsh reception from Indiana fans.
"I hope we win," Sampson said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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