By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA has placed Indiana University on three years of probation and made it nearly impossible for former coach Kelvin Sampson to return to college coaching anytime soon for a telephone recruiting scandal that decimated the once-storied program.
The NCAA gave Sampson five years of potential penalties for his role in more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits made while he was still on probation for a similar phone-call scandal at Oklahoma.
The penalties announced by the NCAA Tuesday cap a 20-month saga that began with Sampson's hiring in March 2006 and escalated with an internal investigation Indiana launched in July 2007.
"Now we know we can move this program in the right direction and build it without more sanctions, and for that I'm happy, very happy, and am very thankful," said current Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, with the team in Hawaii. "We didn't want to lose postseason, scholarships or television, and thank God we didn't lose any of those so we can continue to move the program without the what-ifs."
In finding Indiana guilty of failing to monitor its basketball program, the NCAA faulted the university for not having adequate "real time" monitoring systems in place when Sampson was hired but acknowledged that the former coach's conduct was "unprecedented."
But it also considered the university's record of compliance and its cooperation during the investigation -- factors that infractions committee chairwoman Jo Potuto said helped insulate Indiana from additional sanctions.
The committee ruled Sampson ignored signed compliance agreements with Indiana and ignored telephone restrictions imposed by the NCAA. Potuto also said Sampson deliberately lied to committee members and cited one such instance.
"With regard to the three-way phone calls, the former head coach said he did not knowingly participate in any three-way phone calls," Potuto said during a conference call with reporters. "The former assistant said he introduced the recruit on the call and the report quotes a number of prospects and parents who said they were introduced to him (Sampson)."
Sampson, now an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was "deeply disappointed" by the NCAA findings.
"The accusations at hand are things that happened on my watch and therefore I will take responsibility. I am truly sorry that there were so many people who were hurt in this situation. For the sake of everyone involved, including my family, it is time to move on," he said.
The NCAA imposed restrictions on Sampson through November 2013.
Should he return to college coaching, the university that hires him will have to explain to the NCAA why he should be hired, and Sampson would be prohibited from any recruiting through the summer of 2012. His allowable phone calls would be reduced to half of the NCAA limit for the remaining term of the sanctions.
Former assistant Rob Senderoff, now an assistant at Kent State, also faces three years of NCAA sanctions.
Kent State did not make Senderoff available for comment, but athletic director Laing Kennedy said it would abide by the restrictions on Senderoff regarding recruiting calls.
"We are committed to keeping Rob as an integral part of our staff. His impact and long-term value to our program -- both on the court and heading up our academic efforts -- both far outweigh these penalties," Kennedy said.
In its report, the NCAA acknowledged that Indiana intended to closely monitor Sampson and his assistants but said the university fell short, largely because it did not have a good system in place when Sampson was hired and had to develop one "on the fly." Compliance officials did not follow up on phone record requests in a timely manner and focused too much on collaborating with the men's basketball program and not enough on adhering to requirements, it said.
Under the terms of its probation, IU will be required to implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA recruiting and eligibility rules for all coaches and their staffs and report annually to the NCAA on progress and participation.
IU President Michael McRobbie said the athletics department already has begun that work.
"This was a one-time deviation from a half-century record of having no major NCAA infractions," McRobbie said in a statement. "The coaches who were directly involved in this are no longer employed by Indiana University. And, we are very determined never to allow anything like this to happen again."
McRobbie and Crean said the focus now is on restoring a program that has undergone a complete overhaul.
Only two players from last season's team remain. The others were kicked off, transferred, graduated or left early for the NBA. The team has just nine scholarship players on the team instead of the 13 allowed by NCAA rules after giving up scholarships because of the NCAA investigation and poor academic scores.
The university bought out Sampson's contract for $750,000 in February. None of Sampson's assistants was retained, and athletic director Rick Greenspan announced his resignation the same day the failure to monitor charge was filed. He will leave at the end of December and be replaced by Indianapolis attorney Fred Glass.
"This is what gutting a program looks like, and you have to keep moving forward," said Crean, who left Marquette to take over the program in April. "That's what we'll do, and we get to do it in the long term."
AP Basketball Writer Jim O'Connell in Lahaina, Hawaii, and Joe Milicia in Cleveland contributed to this story.