View Full Version : One man's recommendation for how IU should handle Sampson

02-20-2008, 08:21 AM

Settling with Sampson, quickly, is IU's best option

Through the past week, much of the media portrayed Kelvin Sampson as an archcriminal. Not as some cutesy Batman villain -- The Menage, whose three-way calling will drive you insane! -- but as someone worthy of genuine contempt, like Dillinger or Capone or the people producing Big Brother 9.

Sampson knows he is not that guy. He believes the circumstances surrounding his Indiana program can be handled. His wife, Karen, contends her husband is the toughest man she has ever known. But this has spun out of control so rapidly the strain shows across his brow.

Last week, the NCAA charged Indiana with five major recruiting rules violations. After reviewing an IU self-report and conducting its own interviews, the NCAA chose not to accept the university's contention that the case was minor in nature. Indiana must go before the infractions committee, probably in June, and as a result will have to deal with the question of what to do with Sampson well before that.

The choices range from uncomfortable to inconvenient, from risky to expensive. Indiana's only rational course, though, is to resolve this quickly.

There are several reasons IU cannot afford to defend its case in the summer with Sampson still in place. First, public pressure on the program would be outrageous, and there would be no way to conduct normal operations, particularly recruiting. More important, the infractions committee would view his continued presence as a university endorsement of whatever might have taken place; if the ruling is for multiple major violations, the penalties would be that much more severe.

Finally, the infractions committee's findings will not be disclosed by the NCAA until about six weeks after the hearing. If the results made a change prudent, IU would be in the market for a new coach at the worst possible time -- in late July or early August.

Indiana could try to save itself a buck or two and a little bit of public respect by firing Sampson at the close of a one-week "investigation" ordered by university president Michael McRobbie. That almost certainly would lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit, something the university clearly does not need and quite possibly could lose.

The expedient course would be to squeeze as much money as possible out of the budget and come to a contract settlement with Sampson. There will be no winners, regardless.