NCAA Throws the Booklet at Indiana

November 26, 2008

It was pretty obvious that Kelvin Sampson broke NCAA rules while recruiting high school players when he was the Indiana Hoosiers basketball coach. When Sampson left the Hoosiers and went on to be an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, he left IU holding the bag and Hoosier fans worried that the NCAA would lower the boom on their beloved program, sending it further down the road into basketball obscurity.

It seems that the NCAA realized that Sampson was the person responsible and not so much the school, which means that even though the Hoosiers only forfeit one scholarship and are on three years of probation, Sampson cannot recruit players until 2012, and then only in a limited fashion. This is designed to keep Sampson out of college basketball for at least five years.

Of course, I have to bring up the fact that Sampson already ignored recruiting rules, and he apparently lied to the NCAA, so if he landed another coaching job before the five years is up, what’s to really prevent him from breaking the rules again?

The best part about all of this is Sampson’s official reaction, a statement which said he was “deeply disappointed” by the NCAA ruling and “things that happened on my watch and therefore I will take responsibility.” Uh…yeah, ok. You made phone calls to recruits. That’s a far cry from ‘happened on my watch’ and it’s even farther from ‘take full responsibility’. Taking full responsibility means admitting that you, Kelvin Sampson, repeatedly called players when you weren’t supposed to, even though you knew the rules. It means admitting that you not only knew the rules, but you did it because you thought it would help you land those players. It means admitting that you cheated, you knew you were cheating, and you did it anyway, and you shouldn’t have. That’s taking ‘full responsibility’.

All Sampson is doing is what has become common in the United States culture: break the rules, break the law, and then, even when caught, admit nothing. Then, go on about your life as though nothing ever happened and wait for people to forget.

Although I honestly don’t know how seriously making extra phone calls really ranks on the ‘rule breaking’ scale, it bothers me more that Sampson can’t even admit to this minor offense.