Editor’s note: Two editor’s notes in a row, WTF, you are asking. Well, I thought about whether to post this for almost 2 days. I’ve decided to go ahead with it in its original form, even though I believe it may have been a bit strongly worded. At the core though, I believe my argument is solid.
Dear Mr. Sampson:
Go away. Please. I gave you a chance (and the benefit of the doubt) and you’ve tarnished my last fading hope that winning teams can do it right.
When my alma mater, Indiana University, hired you as head asketball coach, I supported you. Finally, I thought, we would get a hard-working coach that knew how to recruit.
Not everyone was happy. People called you a cheater, said you would embarrass our sacred program. Not me, I defended you.
That was then.
Now, I want you to be our Billy Donovan to the Orlando Magic. Just walk away before this thing ever gets started. We’ll all just pretend we never met.
You see Mr. Sampson, Indiana basketball has been everything to me since I was just a wee Hoosier. Perhaps my fondest memory (pre-Bloomington) was watching MY TEAM knock the storied Duke Blue Devils out of the NCAA Tournament in 2002. My entire family was cheering. Trust me, that’s quite the achievment. Even my dad, who is extremely cynical (and rightly so) about all pro sports, was standing and yelling at the TV. It seems like a good dream to me now, everyone laughing and smiling as OUR TEAM conquered Goliath.
Do you know why they were cheering, Mr. Sampson? Well, in part, it was because they didn’t have to worry about the win being called into question. It was ours forever, and no one could take it away from us.
We’re not Michigan, we’re not Providence, we don’t worry about those things. Sure, for many years, we had one of the toughest/meanest/etc. SOBs around for a coach (followed by one of the most incompetent SOBs around). But neither ever cheated. Neither broke a recruiting rule. Certainly neither (and possibly none before them) ever lost a scholarship. No matter how small your infractions, that is something you cannot say.
Don’t get me wrong, I know your latest slip was minor to say the least. Being on too many three-way calls with recruits, seems like something to laugh at. But true Hoosiers fans like myself aren’t getting a chuckle out of it.
The point is not to see how small your infractions can be. The point is that you obviously didn’t care enough to avoid committing one in the first place (or second or third place this time). Personally, I would think a person, let alone a public figure, already on disciplinary probation would be more careful. But you showed a complete lack of care, both for yourself, and the University. If you truly cared about Indiana — as a school and as a basketball program — you would have appointed an assistant, hell even HIRED someone, to constantly watch and make sure you weren’t violating any rules. Now, most people could probably research the individual rules themselves and avoid breaking them, but it’s clear you are not capable of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll keep loving, following and rooting for MY SCHOOL. It’s all I’ve ever known. But don’t mistake my cheers, Mr. Sampson. They are not for you. You have already decided that my trust and the trust of Indiana basketball fans is not worth your time. And you have opened us all up to jeers of opposing fans and called all our future wins into question, whether you like it or not.
And now, in all corners of the country, I’m sure people just see us as “another program.” Another program that will do anything to win.
I honestly never thought I’d say this Mr. Sampson, but I miss Mike Davis.
Indiana University ’06