Yesterday the NCAA released its "case summary" report regarding the cheating allegations leveled against former Indiana University head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, and assistant coach Rob Senderoff. The report condemns Sampson as complicit, and names him an active agent in the thwarting of NCAA rules by the basketball staff at IU. Senderoff, as expected, was denounced as the initiator of the rogue three-way phone calls between Sampson and IU recruits, as well as the parents of recruits.
While reading Rick Bozich's column on the report, my anger once again flared. Not only did Sampson and Senderoff knowingly commit illegal acts in order to advance IU's basketball program, they then lied to investigators about the activity. Offering up street corner, lame, "it ain't my jacket" excuses. In Sampson's case it was simply a return to whence he came, for this is his second "rule breaking is your friend " seminar ( I wasn't aware that Jim Harrick had an even more obtuse twin brother ).
Even more frustrating than two grown men being paid handsomely to lead and teach young men, but choose instead to corrupt the collegiate basketball process, is the fact that they both ended up beating the system; Sampson corralled an assistants job with the Milwaukee Bucks, and Senderoff went back "home " to Kent State as an assistant coach. Doubly perplexing is that IU PAID Sampson an exit fee of 750k. On the contrary, IU President Michael McRobbie should have sued to recoup the millions IU paid Sampson to screw up their basketball program. Unbelievable. I know there were legal considerations, but paying that man a dime more than his contract called for is a misuse of funds.
If I were NCAA President Myles Brand I would be on a plane to Pullman, Washington, home of Washington State University. WSU is also where Kelvin Sampson first made a name for himself in the coaching ranks. Sampson took over a program on life support, and won. Washington State had never, ever been any good in basketball. So bad was their roundball efforts that people began to say that the only way to win in Pullman is to cheat, or be related to God. Guess which one I think is the case with Sampson. If Sampson cheated at Oklahoma, and then at IU, I can only logically assume there is a high probability that he was thumbing his nose at the rules while in Pullman. We'll probably never know.
Now that I've properly ranted, where do we go from here? Well, Tom Crean and IU are going to struggle mightily for the next couple of years. Crean's recruiting and "strategizing" will be sorely tested. The players will compete, but lose more than they win. The players, and the university's fans are always the ones who are left behind to suffer, and trudge through mounting, painful losses. The "talking heads" will bemoan the fate of the players, and say it "just isn't right", but nothing tangible will be done for the betterment of the team. A lot of blaming, without any real solutions.
I think it's time that Myles Brand "grew a couple," and put a stop to the reckless behavior of rogue coaches. Obviously the "punishment" meted out at the present isn't swaying the undesirable elements of the college coaching profession from wreaking havoc on programs everywhere. It goes like this ... cheat, get fired, get paid, move on. No meaningful repercussions, no worries. So therefore: I encourage the NCAA and the NBA to foster an arrangement that would preclude college coaches from jumping to the NBA after being caught breaking the rules in college. I encourage the NCAA to mandate that any coach caught cheating cannot be rehired at the Division 1 level for a period of at least five years ( let's see if bus rides and bad food cleanses the cheater's system ). I encourage the NCAA to punish those that deserve the whip, not the innocents left behind.
How many times have we seen it? Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky, Memphis, Georgia, Rhode Island, American, Texas - San Antonio, SMU, the list goes on and on; schools and their fans left in the dreaded "sports lurch". Mr. Brand, it is time to stop the destruction of our collegiate athletic programs. Make 'em pay, make 'em feel it, and the renegades will either abide by the rules, or abide somewhere else.
If a valid, lucid argument can be made for keeping the status-qou, I haven't heard it yet. Moreover, I am rather unlikely to ever hear a sane argument for keeping things as they are. And so now is the time to do something about the travesty that exists in college sports. I may not have all of the answers, but a discussion has to start somewhere.
Show some fangs, Myles, we all know you have them. You drew a line in the sand for Bob Knight, surely you can handle the Kelvin Sampson's of the world.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!