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Accepting the Kelvin Sampson 'I told you so's'Posted Friday, February 15, 2008, at 3:26 PM
Well so much for being one of the last remaining good guys.
A program that used to be able to puff out its chest with pride at being untarnished by the heavy hand of the NCAA infractions committee has now sunk into the muck with all the other rule breakers in the world.
Indiana University basketball used to be synonymous with great fundamental basketball, high graduation rates and a very tight ship overall. While the Cincinnatis, Kentuckys, Ohio States and yes, even Purdues, were being caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the Hoosier Nation could still brag on their program for doing it the right way.
One overzealous coach with a bad cell phone addiction and, even worse, what appears to be a dishonest personality when the finger is pointed at him, has ruined what so many before had worked so hard to build.
Don't get me wrong, Bob Knight had plenty of issues with his temper and even how he treated his players on occasion, but he never drew the ire of the NCAA for cheating.
Now, all eyes are looking at IU with a mixture of shame and disdain for what has happened. And as if Bruce Weber and the holier-than-thou Illini fans needed anymore fuel for their message board rants, Kelvin Sampson and the IU program has been cited for five major rules infractions.
Even worse is that they are nearly exactly what he was busted for at Oklahoma.
I'll admit, I was quick to say that he deserved a second chance when he arrived at IU despite his past mistakes for impermissible numbers of calls to recruits. But now I'm man enough to accept the 'I told you so's' from my friends and even some family members. I, and apparently Indiana AD Rick Greenspan, were willing to overlook those past indiscretions in order to hire a guy whose magnetism and drive had gotten him all the way to the mother of all basketball coaching jobs. A long journey from his first job at Montana Tech.
But now it's shame on us.
Congratulations Kelvin, you've relegated the Hoosier program to a laughingstock of this moment.
A 20-4 team that should be focusing on winning a Big Ten title and making a long run into the NCAA Tournament now has the black cloud of doubt hanging heavy over its head. With perhaps the biggest games of this season aligned over a 10-day span, the Hoosiers now wonder whether the tourney is even an option next year.
A loss to Wisconsin earlier this week was tough, but imagine 18-19 year old kids trying to concentrate on classes and then basketball with the media in their face asking about their coach basically being a liar. Oh yeah, and by the way, there is still the matter of facing Michigan State and then rival Purdue on Tuesday.
Remember the good ol' days when IU vs. Purdue used to focus the national eye on either Lafayette or Bloomington because both teams were in the national elite each year?
Well they are this year for the first time in a very long time, but there is no doubt in my mind that the first words out of the ESPN broadcasters' mouths will be something along the line of 'cheating,' 'scandal' and 'NCAA investigation.'
Words never before associated with our proud program.
So thanks Kelvin and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
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