An open letter to Kelvin Sampson

Kelvin SampsonEditor’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


10 Responses to “An open letter to Kelvin Sampson”

  1. 1 Greg
    October 17, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    As a UK fan, I respect and almost like the Hoosiers. I feel bad for you guys and I wish Knight was still your coach.

  2. 2 Brian Burcham
    October 17, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Personally this is getting blown way out of control. They are secondary violations, bob knight self reported secondary violations. I am sure you will love Sampson when he lands Nolan Denis and then a couple more east coast kids. You think Ebanks would be coming to IU if Mike Davis was the coach. If you want to go back to missing the NCAA tourney you aren’t a true IU fan. In one year we went from unranked to a top ten team.

    I hope all the people that are saying/writing this now are still saying this when IU is making a tourney run. Every other school pointing fingers has done much worse (UK, DUIllini fans, Purdue).

    Granted what he did was stupid but let the facts settle before we hang the man, as reported in two papers there is no proof those excessive calls by Senderhoff were ever completed or weren’t to a coach who was also a parent (completely legal).

    I don’t like the rep more then the next guy but it will all blow over when we start winning games.

  3. October 17, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    A minor infraction? Really? It’s not like Sampson broke a standard NCAA rule. Rather he broke a rule imposed on him due to his first set of transgressions. In other words, is was a rule specifically for Sampson, so he didn’t repeat his prior violations. This is serious and a major infraction. And I’m to believe he got all these recruits legally (for lack of a better term)?

  4. 4 Big Ten Bob
    October 17, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Wow, Brian. I hope other IU fans are as disgusted by your comments as rival fans are. Apparently, to you, winning games is far more important than running an ethical program and following the rules. That is seriously messed up, and you should be ashamed. Great post KD. I agree wholeheartedly; it’s better to be mediocre and legit than to win and be dirty. You can only lie to yourself so long (ahem, UofM Fab Five fans). If you can’t win clean, you don’t deserve it. While Brian points out that the infractions are secondary violations, the point is that the infractions related directly to why Sampson was on probation, and since he was on probation, they are not considered secondary. When you know you can’t ingest dairy because it makes you sick, don’t play dumb when you eat a bowl of ice cream and throw up. He knowingly broke rules that were specifically in place because he previously broke similar rules. That doesn’t go away with a “whoops, my bad.”

  5. October 17, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    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).

    Because being tough — i.e. choking players and throwing chairs and verbally abusing everyone you came in contact with and just generally being a bad person — is so much worse than accepting a three-way call.

    A little perspective, eh?

  6. October 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Excuse me, so much “better,” not so much worse. You knew what I meant.

    Typing. hard. for. me.

  7. October 17, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    E- I’m surprised you were the first person to argue this point. Although essentially, you just said Bob Knight was mean directly after I did. You are a trickster though, so you added some dramatic fightin’ words in there to grab the readers. Anyway, you draw something into the argument that isn’t really relevant (and that I didn’t really argue). I never said Bob Knight was a better person than Kelvin Sampson. In fact, I’m pretty sure the opposite is true. Don’t pretend you’re so naive you think all college basketball coaches point out mistakes to their players while patting them gently on the back and handing them water. Now, Bob was a nut, and I wouldn’t really wish him back if I could, but there’s a difference between what you’re arguing and what I’m saying, and you know it. But, perspective should indeed be included in this discussion. It wasn’t just accepting a three-way call, it was the stupidity to violate a rule you knew was established especially for you. Not ‘you’ of course, Kelvin Sampson.

  8. 8 rtmsf
    October 19, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    FynalCut – sorry for the confusion there. I read your alma mater’s name and wrongly assumed. Great take, though. Regards.

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