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Indiana blames coaches for latest NCAA violations

Monday, September 29, 2008

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University believes it did everything possible to keep former coach Kelvin Sampson from breaking the rules.

It blames Sampson and his assistants for the messy phone-call scandal that has tarnished the men's basketball program.

In a lengthy response to the NCAA's newest major allegation, failure to monitor, the university accused Sampson and his staff of withholding information and concealing impermissible phone calls from the school's compliance department.

"Any perceived delay in identifying the impermissible calls occurred largely because of the failure of members of the coaching staff to provide the university with complete, accurate information regarding their recruiting calls and, specifically, the use of home telephones for recruiting, all of which had been requested by the university," the report said. "Therefore, these impermissible calls are a reflection on the veracity of the coaches in question, not the strength of the monitoring system for recruiting calls."

The NCAA had accused the program of four major violations stemming from more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits made by Sampson and his assistants while Sampson was still on probation for a similar phone-call scandal at Oklahoma. Most of those calls, the university said, could not be detected because they were made from home phones, which the coaches said they were not using; improper numbers were provided for recruits; or the coaches provided no number for a recruit.

This spring, school officials responded to the NCAA's original assessment by agreeing Sampson provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Sampson has repeatedly denied the charge that he was not forthright with the NCAA. A message seeking comment was left Monday with Sampson's publicist, Matt Kramer.

When the failure to monitor allegation was added in June, President Michael McRobbie called the charge unjustified and said the school would "vigorously defend" itself.

The lengthy defense, released Monday after a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press, said the monitoring system at Indiana exceeded the norms of comparable schools because it reviewed all the more than 70,000 phone calls made by the basketball staff. Only 13 percent of Football Bowl Subdivision schools, the report contends, were reviewing all calls.

At times, the report took a contentious tone. It questioned the focus placed on the university's monitoring system at a June hearing, accused the infractions committee of reserving the toughest questions for the university instead of the coaches who were involved and called the new charge vague. It even suggested the committee came to the hearing with a predetermined conclusion and challenged committee members to review the monitoring systems at their own schools.

The report also provided a glimpse into why Indiana was surprised with the new allegation. School officials said they had been asked about a possible failure to monitor charge by the NCAA's enforcement staff and had considered adding that to their own report of infractions.

Yet both the enforcement staff and Indiana officials believed the charge was unwarranted.

"The (infractions) committee, however, has chosen to disregard the decision of the enforcement staff," the report said. "It is the university's hope that, based on the information of this response, which directly addresses this allegation, the committee will conclude the enforcement staff was correct."

Indiana said it reviewed call logs throughout the year and then conducted a year-end audit. The infractions were discovered during the audit.

The report also included a letter from Jeff Meyer, one of Sampson's assistants, who wrote that the compliance staff sent e-mails, made phone calls, met or spoke with the basketball coaches almost every day.

"Based on years of experience and work done with several NCAA institutions, I thought Indiana worked diligently to monitor our compliance efforts given the imposed NCAA sanctions," Meyer said.

Since February, the program has undergone a major housecleaning.

Indiana bought out Sampson's contract, and Greenspan, who hired Sampson, has announced he will resign in December. None of Sampson's assistants were retained and all but two players from last season's roster have either transferred or been kicked off the team. The Hoosiers have only one scholarship player, Kyle Taber, returning this fall, something the school cited in the report as evidence it should not face additional sanctions.

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 new staff has endured self-imposed limitations on visits and calls to recruits and the loss of a scholarship.

The NCAA could hand down additional penalties when it rules on the case. Indiana could not say when it expected a ruling. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

NCAA officials generally do not comment on ongoing infractions cases.

But Indiana believes it could not have been asked to do anything more.

"The university believes it cannot and should not be held, via a finding of failure to monitor, for the inaccuracies in the phone logs and phone numbers submitted by the coaching staff, particularly when some, if not most of those errors or omissions appear to be intentional to avoid the university's comprehensive monitoring system," the report said.



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