Hoosiers lose scholarship, Sampson loses bonus over calls
Indiana made a strong statement Sunday that it has enough tolerance for secondary NCAA violations under men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson to ensure his job status, but it will make sure Sampson and any members of his staff pay for violations with their bank accounts and their ability to fully do their jobs.
Indiana announced Sampson broke his one-year penalty from May 24, 2006, to May 25, 2007, which was imposed for recruiting violations, by participating in a three-way recruiting call on 10 occasions. As a result:
• Sampson lost a $500,000 bonus for 2007-08.
• The team lost a scholarship for 2008-09, reducing the number of scholarships to 12.
• Assistant Rob Senderoff, who set up the three-way calls, will be banned for a year from recruiting off campus and making phone calls. He also will not receive a bonus and cannot receive a salary increase next year.
ESPN.com learned Sunday that the NCAA will review the report and determine if any additional penalties should be imposed or if the self-imposed sanctions are sufficient. If the violations did occur during the time that Sampson was under his one-year ban, which was imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, the committee might review the situation and take further action against him.
It still is too early to tell whether or not this will have any effect on Sampson or the program. Although Sampson was not allowed to recruit off campus or make phone calls for a year, the Hoosiers were able to sign one of the top recruiting classes in the country for this fall, including a possible top-five 2008 NBA draft pick in guard Eric Gordon. Gordon and returning power forward D.J. White are expected to lead Sampson's second Hoosiers team perhaps as far as a Big Ten title. Indiana also is expected to be a preseason top-10 team.
The scholarship hit also might not be a big deal, because the Hoosiers just pulled a commitment to 2008 player Bud Mackey after he was arrested for possessing cocaine in Georgetown, Ky. The Hoosiers already had secured three other commitments, according to Scouts Inc., from prospects Devin Ebanks, Tom Pritchard and Matt Roth, who range from No. 5 to No. 37 in their respective position rankings. The loss of a scholarship for 2008-09 might mean the Hoosiers simply won't look for someone to fill Mackey's slot.
The lost bonus is Sampson's third in the past three years, and all have resulted from how he conducted recruiting phone calls.
The first time he was hit was in 2005-06, his last season at Oklahoma. The second time he was hit was when he took the Indiana job in 2006. He signed a seven-year deal that paid him $1.1 million his first season but excluded the possibility of a bonus. Under the contract, he was supposed to earn $1.6 million each of the next six seasons. Then came the news Sunday that he won't receive a contractual $500,000 bonus for the 2007-08 season.
Under NCAA rules, a coach can participate in a three-way call with a recruit. But under Sampson's sanctions, which resulted from violations at Oklahoma but were adopted by Indiana, he wasn't allowed to be a part of a three-way phone conversation.
Sampson said he was aware of only one of the 10 occasions on which he is accused of participating in a three-way call. He said that call was to clear up things with a recruit about a cancelled visit. He said he was unaware the other nine calls were three-way calls. Sampson said recruits were told to call him or he text-messaged them (which was allowed until a text-messaging ban for all coaches was put in place Aug. 1). But Sampson said there were occasions when recruits weren't able to get him on the phone, called Senderoff, and Senderoff patched through the recruit and stayed on the line so the call wouldn't be dropped.
Indiana officials said Sunday that the 10 calls were spread out, with about one per month.
Sampson said he found out the calls were three-way calls after the university did an independent audit of the past year of recruiting calls in July. Indiana officials said the coaching staff was fully cooperative and allowed the officials to look at home phone records.
"This was 10 calls out of 1,000, but we're trying to get to 100 percent compliance, and if we had 10 out of 1,000, then that's 10 too many," Sampson said.
Indiana's report stated that all but two of the three-way calls were initiated by Senderoff.
"I'm disappointed," Sampson said of the violations. "We had been dealing with the sanctions from May 25 to May 25. And once it was over, we were under the impression that it was over. We were confident that we had followed the rules."
Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan said Sampson said he would take full responsibility for the basketball program. Greenspan said the amount of money Sampson won't receive makes a "strong statement" about how much the coach was willing to cooperate.
Senderoff might have taken the biggest career hit Sunday, with the university imposing a one-year ban on his ability to recruit off campus or by phone, preventing him from calling recruits. Senderoff won't receive a bonus this season or a salary increase next season.
Senderoff handled a lot of the recruiting responsibilities with assistants Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer.
Taking Senderoff off the road might mean a reassignment within the staff. Sampson said Senderoff is on the floor coaching and the situation will evolve. But Indiana officials said Sunday that the Hoosiers will be down a coach on the road and Sampson can't substitute the director of basketball operations for Senderoff in recruiting off campus or making phone calls.
If Senderoff were terminated during the yearlong ban, the position still would carry the penalty, regardless of who was in the role.
This might hurt Senderoff's ability to land a head coaching gig in the near future, too. He had been mentioned as a prospective candidate for a few Midwestern mid-major openings last spring.
"Rob made his mistakes, and they were mistakes of omission and mistakes of commission," Sampson said. "There wasn't an intention to circumvent the rules. Rob is on the floor every day and participating with the staff as he normally does, but won't travel [for recruiting] or use the phone.
Sampson called the mistakes by the staff "sloppiness."
Sampson's status in recruiting remains unchanged, pending any further action by the NCAA. He was allowed to make calls after May 24, and his recruiting travel ban ended then, as well. He spent July 2005 and 2006 off the road during travel bans for phone call violations, but in both cases, he committed top classes, although the Sooners class eventually scattered once Sampson left for Indiana.
The news comes just two days after Indiana hosted more than a dozen recruits at its Hoosier madness event Friday in Bloomington. The Indianapolis Star reported that a number of prominent recruits from the class of 2009, such as Lance Stephenson, Dexter Strickland, Stephen Van Treese, Jordan Prosser and Nolan Dennis, were in attendance.
Indiana finished 21-11 last season, 10-6 in the Big Ten, and lost to UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Sampson's first season with the Hoosiers.
Greenspan voiced his disappointment throughout a conference call about the violations Sunday. So, too, did Sampson. But Greenspan never wavered in his support.
"The rules we broke were mistakes, and we take full responsibility for what happened," Sampson said.
Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com.
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