Sampson slips out as Indiana's NCAA hearings wrap up
SEATTLE -- Kelvin Sampson ended two days of playing public peek-a-boo by slipping out as his former boss at Indiana thanked the NCAA for its two-day, closed-door hearing before a panel that will determine whether the former coach violated recruiting rules.
"I would like to thank the NCAA Committee on Infractions for granting us the opportunity to present our case and our institutional position during this hearing," Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan wrote in a statement handed out Saturday by senior associate athletic director Tim Fitzpatrick in the lobby of the Hotel Deca to complete a cloak-and-dagger weekend in which no one wanted to talk.
As Fitzpatrick issued IU's statement, Sampson, whom the NCAA accuses of providing false and misleading information to investigators about more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits, left out of view.
The NCAA also accuses Sampson with knowingly violating NCAA recruiting restrictions imposed because of a previous phone-call scandal at Oklahoma. Sampson, who also formerly coached Washington State, is now an assistant coach with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.
"We realize that this is a very serious matter, and are grateful to the members of the Committee on Infractions for their vital role in conducting these proceedings," Greenspan's statement read. "We look forward to the adjudication of this matter in the future, and until the Committee's decision is rendered, I will have no further comment regarding this subject."
Stacey Osburn, associate director of media relations for the NCAA, said the decision on possible sanctions likely won't be known for at least six weeks. She said the committee was likely meeting Saturday evening to discuss what to do next before it heads back to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Indiana faces a possible postseason ban. Sampson and former Hoosiers assistant Rob Senderoff, now an assistant at Kent State, face what the NCAA calls a show-cause penalty, which requires schools to get the NCAA infractions committee's approval of their hire of a coach.
If Senderoff receives a show-cause penalty, Kent State would have to either appeal that sanction or fire him.
Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy appeared during both days of the hearing with Senderoff, who is widely viewed as the fall-guy in this case. Senderoff is accused of making recruiting calls in the presence of Sampson and handing the phone to recruits and recruits' parents and coaches on recruiting trips, so they could speak to Sampson.
The NCAA banned all those practices when it handed down the Oklahoma punishment in May 2006.
Scott Tompsett, the lawyer for Senderoff, gave a brief statement after the hearing to reporters while Sampson was leaving in a minivan.
"We had a very thorough and extensive hearing," Tompsett said. "We think the committee was very diligent in their review of the case. We appreciate that. Rob cooperated fully throughout this case and throughout this hearing, and we're looking forward to the decision."
Former assistant coach Jeff Meyer, who was not retained after last season, testified at the hearing about allegations he made a handful of impermissible calls. He is not charged with unethical conduct.
"I am confident the committee will treat me fairly," an emotional Meyer said as he read a statement from a notepad. "Second, I have from day one acknowledge the mistakes I've made and I've taken responsibility, personal responsibility, for the wrongdoing. I apologized to Indiana University for my involvement in the matter, however limited my involvement has been.
Meyer called the process a "very painful and humiliating experience."
Sampson has repeatedly denied he was knowingly involved in three-way calls, and Senderoff and Sampson both dispute the NCAA's contention that they did not tell investigators the whole truth.
But the NCAA cited interviews with seven recruits, some of whom said Sampson, Senderoff and a third person were all on the phone at the same time. Sampson has questioned the credibility of the witnesses because he contends they made mistakes on dates, times and certain events that were discussed.
Questions also have been raised about whether school officials should have known about the phone calls earlier. And many around the storied IU program think Sampson should have been fired immediately when the allegations surfaced last summer.
The question for Greenspan and other Indiana officials is whether they've done enough to avoid more serious penalties, such as the postseason ban. They may have to wait into August to find out.
Surprised by a reporter in a hotel hallway Friday night while he was leaving with his lawyers, Sampson said the first seven hours of the hearing "went well."
"It's a process," he said.
When asked if the initial questioning went as he thought it would, Sampson said: "About what we expected."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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