NCAA lists 5 major violations; IU AD 'profoundly disappointed'

Updated: February 15, 2008, 2:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Kelvin Sampson's future at Indiana was in doubt Wednesday following the release of an NCAA report that says he committed five "major" violations.

According to the report released Wednesday, the NCAA listed five major violations against Sampson, saying he gave "false or misleading information" to investigators.

The allegations stem from a phone-call scandal that occurred while Sampson was still under recruiting restrictions following a similar episode at Oklahoma.

Sampson "failed to deport himself ... with the generally recognized high standard of honesty" and "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men's basketball program," according to the report.

Athletic director Rick Greenspan promised the university would cooperate with all NCAA requests, adding that these are "allegations" and that he believes in due process.

"It's regrettable, to say the least, that we are in this position, in regards to these allegations," Greenspan said during a late-afternoon news conference. "I personally and professionally am profoundly disappointed that there is even a hint of inappropriate behavior."

Sampson responded by reading a statement after Indiana's 68-66 loss to Wisconsin (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) on Wednesday night.

"The allegations that I knowingly acted contrary to the sanctions that occurred while I was at Oklahoma are not true," he said. "I have never intentionally provided false or misleading information to the NCAA. I intend to work within the NCAA process on this matter, and I look forward to my opportunity to do so."

He said he would not comment further until after an NCAA hearing in June. Sampson repeatedly refused to answer additional questions.

The Allegations

What exactly is the NCAA alleging happened? Take a look at what the NCAA sent to the president of the Indiana University. Notice of allegations (pdf)
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Greenspan said he spoke with Sampson for about 90 minutes on Tuesday night and spoke to him again Wednesday morning. "I believe coach Sampson understands my perspective on this," Greenspan said. "I've shared that consistently and regularly with him. ... I think he understands the significant implications of this. These are not allegations that are brought forward lightly, or seen in a casual way or frivolous way." Before Sampson coached Wednesday night's game, Greenspan said, "I expect him to be there and coaching our team."

When asked whether he expected Sampson to be the Hoosiers' coach beyond the Wisconsin game, Greenspan said, "I expect him to coach in the foreseeable future. I'll let you editorialize ... on what the foresseable future means. What that means to me is, we have work to do. ... We're going to be expedient. We're also not going to rush to judgment."

On Wednesday, following the release of the NCAA report, Greenspan would not say whether the school planned to impose additional sanctions but acknowledged Sampson's contract contains a clause in which he could be fired for cause if the NCAA rules Sampson committed major violations.

According to the contract signed in April 2006, Indiana pays Sampson an annual base salary of $500,000. With five years left on the deal, the cost could reach at least $2.5 million.

Sampson's deal includes termination clauses for violations of university or NCAA rules that eliminate the payments. Attorneys, however, have differing views on whether the accusations, which include providing false or misleading information to investigators, would allow Indiana to fire Sampson with cause and get off the financial hook.

Greenspan acknowledged Wednesday these are only allegations since the NCAA has not yet made a ruling, and the distinction could be important.

"It [the contract] talks about significant, intentional or repetitive violations, so the question becomes when does it become a violation?" said Indianapolis attorney Stephen Backer, a former trustee at Indiana who works in contractual law. "That's the issue. I'm sure that's what they're meeting about today."

University spokesman Larry MacIntyre confirmed Thursday that president Michael McRobbie was still consulting with the school's lawyers, trustees and administrators. MacIntyre would not provide details on those discussions but acknowledged both sides have to abide by the rules set forth in the contract.

MacIntyre said Dorothy Frapwell, the university's counsel, declined to discuss Sampson's contract.

Milton Thompson, also an Indianapolis attorney, believes there's another caveat, too.

While he contends Indiana's report and Sampson's acceptance of the school's penalties in October amount to an admission of significant and repetitive violations, the coach may still have legal protection because he wasn't fired four months ago.

"There can always be a liability issue," Thompson said. "If they accepted the sanctions and didn't fire him then, that may be an area he could pursue."

Other potential clauses that could absolve the university of a hefty payout include those for moral turpitude and conduct seriously prejudicial to the university.

Both attorneys believe they are broad enough provisions that the university could use either one to make its case for firing Sampson with cause.

But even that can be tricky.

"In my opinion, yes, his conduct has been prejudicial to the university," said Backer, who was against Sampson's hiring from the start. "But the provision says it has to be seriously prejudicial, and the question is has it risen to the level of being seriously prejudicial?"

Major violations of NCAA rules can also carry punishments including postseason ineligibility. Indiana already had self-reported violations under Sampson in October. The Hoosiers have had no NCAA major violations since 1960.

Indiana (20-4, No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) has until May 8 to provide a written response, but the matter could simmer late into the summer. The committee on infractions has a hearing in April, but because of the allotted 90-day window for Indiana to respond, the hearing is not expected to take place until the committee's planned June meeting.

A postseason ban for the Hoosiers would come into play only if IU decides to self-impose such a measure. Multiple sources told ESPN.com that a postseason ban would occur only if there were an issue with the eligibility of any current student-athletes. ESPN.com has been told this isn't the case at this point.

At Sampson's introductory news conference at Indiana two years ago, then-president Adam Herbert said, "I am fully convinced that he will elevate the program to what you expect. ... He has made clear our players will do well academically and graduate and that he will comply fully with NCAA regulations."

Among the allegations cited in the NCAA's report:

• Sampson, assistant coach Jeff Meyer and former assistant Rob Senderoff failed to comply with sanctions imposed on Sampson for impermissible recruiting calls he made while he was the head coach at Oklahoma. Sampson was under such sanctions when he was hired to coach the Hoosiers in March 2006.

Sampson and Senderoff, who resigned his position Oct. 30, are alleged to have jointly participated in telephone calls at a time when Sampson was prohibited from being present or taking part when staff members made recruiting calls. Senderoff and Meyer are alleged to have made about 100 calls that exceeded the sanction limits.

• Senderoff and Meyer placed "at least 25 telephone calls" to nine potential recruits that exceeded NCAA limits even if no sanctions had been in place.

• Sampson "acted contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly violated recruiting restrictions imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions."

• Sampson and Meyer engaged in an impermissible recruiting contact during a two-day sports camp held at Assembly Hall last June 30 and July 1, and that Meyer provided the potential recruit with an impermissible benefit -- at least one T-shirt and drawstring backpack.

The NCAA launched its investigation after Indiana announced in October that Sampson had made 100 impermissible phone calls while he was on probation for illicit calls made while he was the coach at Oklahoma from 2000-06. During that time, he made 577 impermissible calls.

Sampson was penalized by Oklahoma by not being allowed to travel for recruiting. Indiana imposed the same penalty in his first season as coach. He also was not permitted to make calls or leave campus to recruit for a calendar year. He was not banned from text messaging since it was allowed during that year. But it was during that year that he made the impermissible calls.

Sampson wasn't allowed to take part in three-way calls, originated by anyone on his staff. In October, Indiana made public that Senderoff initiated three-way calls involving Sampson. During the October news conference, Indiana said that Sampson said he was unaware he was participating in three-way calls. Senderoff, who was forced to resign, said he didn't let Sampson know he was on three-way calls, either. Prior to being forced out of his job, Senderoff was told he couldn't recruit off campus for a year or make calls. The same restriction was put on Dan Dakich, who has since been moved up to an assistant's position from director of basketball operations.

Sampson was hit with more penalties by the school, forfeiting a $500,000 raise, and a scholarship was taken away from the team.

Upon his hiring at Indiana in 2006, Sampson said, "It is a little bit embarrassing to stand up here and be asked about NCAA violations, but you also have to realize we're human and we make mistakes. I made a mistake but we've corrected it and moved forward."

In a statement issued through his attorney Wednesday, Meyer said he would continue to cooperate with Indiana and the NCAA.

"I regret that I may have made mistakes that are causing my and IU's conduct to be examined by the NCAA. … I will not comment on this process again before it is completed," Meyer said.

Meyer issued an apology through a lawyer, but that might not be enough to satisfy Greenspan and the Indiana administration.

"There have been discussions from me to the people I report to about what the next step is and that is to digest the implications of this," Greenspan said. "On the issue of personnel, my position has almost always been to make a recommendation to the president and ultimately the decision rests with the president. None of those decisions have been made."

Information from ESPN.com senior writers Pat Forde and Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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