Sampson denies lying to Indiana about his actions, phone calls

Updated: September 30, 2008, 9:18 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kelvin Sampson believes Indiana has it all wrong.

A day after the school accused Sampson and his staff of withholding information and concealing impermissible phone calls, the former Indiana coach rebutted those allegations Tuesday in a tersely worded one-paragraph statement sent out by his publicist, Matt Kramer.

"In no way did I ever hide or withhold information from Indiana University's compliance department. I vehemently deny the inference that I made and concealed impermissible calls," Sampson's statement said. "The NCAA has never alleged that I initiated any illegal phone calls to recruits while serving as the head coach at Indiana. I always provided Indiana with everything they requested, including all documents and phone records."

Athletic department spokesman J.D. Campbell said the university would not comment on Sampson's statement.

The back-and-forth battle of words continues the saga that started in October, when athletic director Rick Greenspan first announced the improper phone calls had been discovered during an audit of the basketball program's phone records.

Initially, the school called them secondary infractions, and Sampson forfeited a pay raise and agreed to an extension of the NCAA-imposed sanctions that followed him from Oklahoma to Indiana.

But when it became clear that Sampson had participated in three-way calls and had been connected to recruits when another coach passed the phone to players, the NCAA charged Indiana with five major violations. The NCAA said both violated the penalties imposed on Sampson from his previous phone-call scandal.

Sampson was also accused by the NCAA of providing false and misleading information to investigators, something he has repeatedly denied.

Eventually, the NCAA dropped one major count to a secondary infraction, and Indiana concurred with the NCAA's assessment on all four charges.

Then in June, Indiana got a surprise when the NCAA alleged another major infraction -- failure to monitor.

That prompted Monday's release of the school's response, in which the university said all but four calls could not have been detected earlier because Sampson and his staff had concealed them.

Now Indiana is bracing for the prospect of getting hit with even more penalties from the NCAA when a ruling is handed down, probably in October.

"The university recognizes that a probationary period will likely be imposed and suggests that it begin on the date of the [June] hearing," the report said.

It's unclear whether the university anticipates a postseason or television ban.

University officials are arguing their own actions have been tough enough to avoid additional penalties.

Since getting rid of Sampson, the program has undergone a major housecleaning.

Greenspan, who hired Sampson, has announced he will resign in December. None of Sampson's assistants were retained after the season and all but two players from last season's roster have either graduated, transferred, been kicked off the team or left early for the NBA.

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 extended limitations on visits and calls to recruits for Crean and his staff and has taken away one scholarship. Indiana contends it forfeited about 1,800 recruiting calls in comparison to the roughly 120 in question.

And it argues that the university, which has not been found guilty of a major infraction since 1960, has had its reputation damaged.

But will those points convince the infractions committee Indiana has done its part to clean things up?

In defending its stance that no additional penalties are necessary, Indiana cited a committee member's own words and the precedent established in a 2003 case against the Chicago State women's basketball program. In that case, Chicago State avoided being found guilty of lack of institutional control because the infractions committee believed the coach was acting on her own.

Indiana contends Sampson and his staff were doing the same thing, which Sampson now disputes.

University officials also quoted a comment made by a committee member at June's Knight Commission meeting that infractions cases should not be used to "cripple" a team and should instead focus on making the institutions better.

Indiana believes the committee may have a different agenda, though.

"Unfortunately, it now appears that the committee may be ignoring the counsel it provided to the membership in the Chicago State infractions report, and has instead determined that a failure to monitor is appropriate only because Indiana University hired Sampson," the report said, referring to Sampson's previous infractions.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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