Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson will not receive a $500,000 raise and his team will lose one scholarship for next season after violating NCAA-imposed sanctions on phone calls, the school announced Sunday.
It’s the second time in 17 months Sampson has been penalized for improper phone calls.
The NCAA banned him from off-campus recruiting for one year in May 2006 when the infractions committee ruled Sampson made 577 impermissible calls from 2000 to 2004 while at Oklahoma. As part of the penalty, Sampson also was banned from participating in three-way calls.
School officials said that while NCAA rules allow coaches to use three-way calling, the internal investigation showed Sampson violated the punishment handed down by the NCAA.
In a hastily arranged conference call with reporters Sunday, Sampson said he unknowingly participated in nine of 10 three-way calls a review found he was involved with during the 12-month period he had been sanctioned.
“It’s very disappointing,” Sampson said. “We’ve been dealing with sanctions from May 25 to May 25, and when it was over, we were confident that we had followed all of the rules other than one call. I was not aware the three-way calls were three-way calls other than one.”
Sampson said the call he was aware of was to clear up questions from a recruit who had already committed himself to making an on-campus visit.
One report from the investigation, which athletic director Rick Greenspan said began in July, has already been turned over to the NCAA’s infractions committee. A second, describing what school officials believe are secondary violations for undocumented calls made from the homes of assistant coaches, is expected to be forwarded to the NCAA soon.
Greenspan said assistant coach Rob Senderoff, whom Sampson said was responsible for patching through the three-way calls and whom school officials determined made the majority of the improper calls, also will be penalized.
Senderoff will not receive a bonus or salary increase and will not be allowed to recruit off-campus or make recruiting calls through next July.
“I am profoundly disappointed we are dealing with this matter as is Coach Sampson,” Greenspan said. “We hope these sanctions send a strong message.”
Still, Senderoff’s job does not appear to be in immediate jeopardy since he is still coaching at practices and performing administrative duties. Sampson would not say whether additional action might be taken against Senderoff in the future.
Sampson explained Senderoff was helping recruits reach Sampson, in part because Sampson’s cell phone signal made it difficult. Recruits then, Sampson said, would call back Senderoff seeking assistance.
That’s when, Sampson said, the three-way calls occurred.
“I was allowed to text message kids and a lot of times that’s how a kid would call,” Sampson said. “But a lot of times, because of the area I lived in, the call would not go through or show up as missed calls. Because of the restrictions we were under, I could not make any calls from May 25 to May 25 and I did not make any calls.”
But it is a black eye for an Indiana program that took a risk when it hired Sampson in March 2006, while still under NCAA investigation.
Sampson is also expected to help put the Hoosiers back on the national map this year after winning the recruiting fight for Indianapolis high school star Eric Gordon last year. Gordon, the state’s 2007 Mr. Basketball winner, backed out of a commitment with Illinois last October and announced he would play for the Hoosiers.
Sampson said he and his staff dutifully tried to abide by the sanctions although it is now clear there were violations.
“There was certainly no intent to think that we were above the law,” he said. “The rules we broke were mistakes. … It’s not something that we were doing out front, purposefully.”
When Sampson was hired, Greenspan said that additional NCAA infractions could lead to Sampson’s firing.
But Greenspan said Sunday that after consulting with university attorneys and school President Michael McRobbie it was determined the school-imposed penalties were appropriate.
“This decision was not made by the athletic director, but it has been made with considerable thought and it’s a matter we will now move forward to the NCAA,” Greenspan said.
Sampson also acknowledged after his hiring that he had made mistakes at Oklahoma, mistakes that he and his staff had learned from.
A conciliatory Sampson again promised Sunday to follow all rules in the future.
“I think we had mistakes of omission and commission, but I don’t think there was any intent to circumvent the rules,” Sampson said. “We have to figure this out. We don’t want to be 95 percent in compliance or 99 percent, we have to be 100 percent in compliance.”
— The Associated Press
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