Indiana says failure to monitor charge uncalled for because it was kept in dark

Updated: September 29, 2008, 9:39 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University believes it did everything it could to keep former coach Kelvin Sampson from breaking rules.

The school blames Sampson and his assistants for the messy phone-call scandal that has tarnished its men's basketball program.

In a lengthy response to the NCAA's newest major allegation, failure to monitor, the university accused Sampson and his staff of withholding information and concealing impermissible phone calls from the school's compliance department.

"Any perceived delay in identifying the impermissible calls occurred largely because of the failure of members of the coaching staff to provide the university with complete, accurate information regarding their recruiting calls and, specifically, the use of home telephones for recruiting, all of which had been requested by the university," the report said. "Therefore, these impermissible calls are a reflection on the veracity of the coaches in question, not the strength of the monitoring system for recruiting calls."

The NCAA had accused the program of four major violations stemming from more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits made by Sampson and his assistants while Sampson was still on probation for a similar phone-call scandal at Oklahoma. Most of those calls, the university said, could not be detected because they were made from home phones, which the coaches said they were not using; improper numbers were provided for recruits; or the coaches provided no number for a recruit.

In June, school officials responded to the NCAA's original assessment by agreeing that Sampson provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Sampson has repeatedly denied the charge that he was not forthright with the NCAA. A message seeking comment was left Monday with Sampson's publicist, Matt Kramer.

Less than two weeks after Indiana appeared in front of the infractions committee, however, the failure to monitor charge was added. At the time, President Michael McRobbie called the charge unjustified and said the school would "vigorously defend" itself.

The lengthy defense, released Monday through a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press, said the university's monitoring system exceeded the norms of comparable schools and reviewed 100 percent of more than 70,000 phone calls made by the basketball staff.

School officials said other Division I football schools generally review 10 percent of all calls, and that their enhanced system was the best "technology would allow."

At times, the report had a contentious tone and it seemed school officials couldn't believe they had been charged with failure to monitor given the steps they had taken. Indiana said in the report that it had answered questions from the NCAA's enforcement staff about the possibility of such a charge and that both sides believed it was unwarranted.

Now, it wants the infractions committee to reach the same conclusion as what the school called the NCAA's own, trained, professional staff.

"The failure to monitor allegation is both comprehensive and broad in scope," the report said. "Given this, it is inconceivable that the NCAA enforcement staff, which is comprised of trained investigative professionals, could have missed this failure to monitor, if in fact it existed. The university does not believe it did."

Indiana said it had implemented a two-tier review process, including checks throughout the year and a year-end audit. It was during the year-end audit that the violations were discovered, and athletic director Rick Greenspan announced the findings in October.

Since February, the program has undergone a major housecleaning.

Indiana bought out Sampson's contract, and Greenspan, who hired Sampson, has announced he will resign in December. None of Sampson's assistants were retained and all but two players from last season's roster have either transferred or been kicked off the team. The Hoosiers have only one scholarship player, Kyle Taber, returning this fall, something the school cited in the report.

The university also has restructured its compliance office and included a provision in new coach Tom Crean's contract that gives Indiana the right to fire him if he or his staff members commit NCAA infractions.

In addition, the school has already imposed limitations on visits and calls to recruits and taken away one scholarship.

The NCAA could hand down additional sanctions when it rules on the case. Indiana could not say when it expected a ruling. The AP left a message seeking comment at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

NCAA officials generally do not comment on ongoing infractions cases.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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