Conference Me In

*This is a re-post, originally on the Scoop 11/26/08, to test my fledgling blogging abilities. Enjoy & let me know whatcha think!

As many things were left unsaid in the Committee on Infraction’s report (and preclusive press conference) as were stated. For all the mitigating and exacerbating factors specifically cited in support of the committee’s decision, just as many factors were specifically ignored or generally danced around.

By this point, most people in the free world know how Indiana University and Kelvin Sampson arrived where they are today.

Kelvin Sampson was on the hot seat, and Indiana knew what it was getting into when it hired Sampson. He knew what he had done was wrong, and Indiana knew what it was supposed to do after hiring a wrong-doer. He intentionally did it again and then lied about it. Indiana wasn’t ready or eager to catch him, but they gave him a phone anyway.

Once the fit hit the shan, Sampson was allowed to coach more than half a season before IU pressed the self-destruct button. The whole program was nuked. Only 2 players would remain (a current and former walk-on). Everybody else associated with the team was drafted, kicked off, flunked off, or, most commonly, paid off.

The whole world watched as IU’s once-mighty moral towers were crumbled as minor infractions turned major. Half a century coming, the Sampson saga was the Halley’s Comet of hoops infractions.

This much we knew before the conference and report’s release.

Now, we know that no one should ever think about crossing the COI. Failing to comply with the Committee is about "as serious as it gets.” When it comes to the NCAA, probation violations are now a capital offense.

Sampson’s argument that “they were just phone calls” at OU didn’t hold up so well in 2006. Saying the same thing and, in the alternative, adding that IU “should have caught him sooner,” went even worse in 2008.

And by the way, Rick, the NCAA wants to see more parole officer and less palling around from A.D.’s who hire offenders. Ideally, you should assume this role the minute you sign the parolee to contract and not go by the honor system for the first several months of the offender’s employment.

Speaking of Rick, we knew forcing Senderoff and Sampson to resign would likely lessen the NCAA’s blow on IU, but will we ever know what factor Greenspan’s forced resignation played in the Committee’s mitigation equation? No one asked this question of Potuto yesterday. Moreover, would the matter have escalated to the point it did had IU fired Sampson (and possibly Greenspan) upon first discovering the violations? Again, unasked.

Add the above questions to the list of things that we’ll probably never know. Under the NCAA’s kangaroo courts, state employees can be terminated for violating NCAA rules, yet the transcripts and records surrounding their investigation are not public record. Just like amateurism has been made into a farce by the NCAA, so too is the premise of open government when it involves NCAA-governed sports at public institutions.

In all fairness to the fans of IU basketball and the taxpayers of Indiana, we have a right to discover all the evidence which was gathered as a part of these proceedings. The highest paid employee of the State of Indiana was fired for breaking rules, the evidence supporting this conclusion is only available to the extent that the NCAA wishes it to be. This is a travesty.

How much clearer would the picture be were we to learn exactly what Jerry Green had to say about the matter? As far as I can tell, he was the only one who regularly met with Sampson and compliance. He was the staff liaison for compliance. With 30+ years of coaching experience, I’m guessing he knew a rat when he saw one. Tell me again why he left IU after only 1 year?

What did our compliance officers say in regards to the support they received from the administration in holding Sampson accountable to his enhanced enforcement? It seems Greenspan wanted everybody to be friends, not necessarily effective overseers. What led the committee to this conclusion?

I’m less concerned about holding people’s feet to the fire on these matters as I am reluctant to see us repeat the mistakes in the future. (See Sampson’s hiring process for further illustration of this point.) Likewise, I believe the public has a right to know why we’re paying millions of dollars of public money in severance to people who knowingly and purposefully violated the terms of their employment. We paid millions to guys who were either cheats or complete incompetents. Where is the oversight and accountability for these indefensible decisions?!?

Save me the argument about a cost savings in avoiding protracted attorney expenses. You postpone any wrongful termination hearings until after the governing body (NCAA) has adjudicated the matter (guilty 11/26/08) and tell the guy to jump off a cliff when afterwards he says you were wrong to fire him and now owe him more money.

Top to bottom, this has been a travesty, a complete debacle. Hoosiers have been bled nearly to death as the NCAA extracted its pound of flesh from the most revered institution in the state. If the NCAA were truly concerned with putting the interests of the student-athlete first, they would use this situation as a case study in how not to protect student-athletes from the indiscretions of the adults around them. We can never feel sorry enough for those (few) players last year who went to class, gave their all on the court, and generally sacrificed their private lives for us, only to be undercut at the finish line by the NCAA and their own administration. Their losses can never be redressed.

Now it is finally over. We’ve come Crean. The wounds have been closed and the healing can commence. We will scab and, eventually, scar. With any luck, it will be the next time Halley’s Comet comes around before the words “infraction” and “Indiana” are ever muttered in the same sentence again.

Maybe if we knew a little bit more about how we got here in the first place, we could ensure this would only be a once in a lifetime occurrence.

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