May 8, 2008
VIA OVERNIGHT DELIVERY
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
1802 Alonzo Watford Sr. Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Dear Committee Members:
Enclosed is my written Response to the allegations set forth in the NCAA enforcement staff’s Notice of Allegations to Indiana University, Bloomington, dated February 8, 2008. I have been assisted in the preparation of this Response by legal counsel to ensure that I proceed as expected by your policies, procedures and practices.
When I appeared before you in April 2006 to address recruiting telephone contact violations at the University of Oklahoma, I accepted responsibility for my mistakes, I answered your questions truthfully and with great candor, and I pledged to do everything within my power to avoid violations in the future. That experience had a profound effect on me. I was embarrassed and I was wholly determined to not put myself and my family through another experience like that.
When I arrived at Indiana University, I hired an experienced staff and made my expectation of strict compliance with NCAA rules and with the restrictions imposed upon our staff very clear. As set forth in detail in the body of my Response, each member of my staff confirms that my expectations were made clear. I endorsed and cooperated fully with the monitoring systems set in place by Indiana’s athletics compliance staff. I relied upon the monitoring program that was set in place. Again, the statements of my staff as set forth in my Response confirm this. I told my staff repeatedly that I never again wanted to go through an experience like I had in the Oklahoma case and that we as a staff needed to completely buy into the monitoring systems implemented by Indiana’s compliance program.
On the day the recruiting restrictions ended in May 2007, I felt a sense of great relief and peace. I believed that the darkest days of my coaching career were behind me and that we could now move forward with our goal of returning Indiana’s basketball program to a position of prominence. I went to Athletic Director Rick Greenspan’s office and together, we celebrated the occasion with "high fives." With the recruiting call monitoring system we believed was being operated by the compliance staff, neither of us had any reason to think there might be issues.
Accordingly, I cannot adequately describe in words how stunned I was to learn from Mr. Greenspan later that summer that the compliance office’s review of my staff’s phone records had revealed possible violations. First, I could not believe that if in fact the records showed violations, some since my staff’s earliest days at the University, the matters had not been detected and brought to the attention of Mr. Greenspan and myself much earlier so they could have been addressed in a timely fashion. And second, given how strongly and frequently I had communicated to my staff that I expected 100 percent compliance – I could not believe that NCAA rules and Committee on Infractions’ imposed restrictions had apparently been disregarded.
My life since that day has been a nightmare and my family has suffered profoundly along with me. I have been judged by many in the media and public to be a cheat and a liar and I have lost my job – all long before I will have had an opportunity to present my case to you and without Indiana University conducting a meaningful investigation into the allegations made by the enforcement staff. Even this NCAA process has not followed the prescribed course. A date for the hearing of this case was set before interviews, including one of me, were completed by the enforcement staff and before the enforcement staff issued its Notice of Allegations. These pre-determined results are of grave concern to me. It is my hope that the scheduled June hearing will allay my fears that final judgments have already been made.
As difficult as this process and experience has been for me, I do, given the circumstances, look forward to the opportunity to appear before you and, with the assistance of my counsel, to attempt to ensure that you have all of the information available on the relevant matters so that you can make a fair, unbiased and accurate determination on whether I knowingly participated in telephone conversations with recruits that were contrary to the restrictions imposed upon me and Indiana University by your committee following the Oklahoma infractions case.
...And Kelvin Sampson's response, or at least a preview.
By John M. IU
Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline has the entire text of Sampson's cover letter to the NCAA.
I don't know if the NCAA will release Sampson's full response. At the very least, we will get some highlights when the NCAA issues its report a few months from now. The letter certainly highlights how Sampson will attempt to defend himself. First, he is going to go after IU's compliance staff, suggesting that the safeguards, if properly implemented, would have discovered the problems. Second, it also seems that Sampson will go after his own staff. Overall, his defense, at least as hinted in this letter, is that he relied upon the assistant coaches and the compliance staff and both failed him. Again, it's hard to know the full defense without the full response, but those appear to be his defenses.
Certainly, it is disappointing that IU's athletic department employees failed to discover these problems, but the primary obligation was that of Sampson and his staff. But a compliance staff is no substitute for compliance. The larger problem with this defense is that the NCAA's allegations suggest that some of the violations, Sampson's improper participation in calls made on Rob Senderoff's phone, would not have been detected by even the most detailed review of telephone records.
Most conspicuous in its absence from this cover letter is any sort of defense to the allegations of numerous recruits that Sampson personally participated in improper calls. If Sampson is telling the truth, then many former IU recruiting targets, including Demetri McCamey, Dejuan Blair, Devin Ebanks, Marcus Morris, Kenny Frease, and/or their parents, are liars or are grossly mistaken. The NCAA's Notice of Allegations was detailed and the NCAA supported its allegations with accounts of many witnesses. If Sampson is innocent, this is a hell of a conspiracy.
I'll keep a lookout for IU's response and Sampson's response. I'm sure I will have more later, unfortunately.