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Sampson out at IU

Coach to be suspended; Dakich the interim man

Posted: Friday February 22, 2008 12:02PM; Updated: Friday February 22, 2008 6:06PM
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Strong support from his players delayed the announcement of Sampson's fate.
Strong support from his players delayed the announcement of Sampson's fate.
AJ Mast/Icon SMI

Fear of a full-roster mutiny at Indiana -- as well as a dispute over who will be named interim coach in Kelvin Sampson's wake -- created issues with an announcement regarding Sampson's future at IU, a source close to the team told SI.com. But Indiana is expected to announce Friday that Sampson has either been suspended or has resigned and accepted a buyout package. Assistant Dan Dakich is expected to become head coach for the remainder of the 2007-08 season.

The source said that in meeting with Hoosiers players Thursday night, IU athletic director Rick Greenspan informed them of the likelihood that Sampson would no longer be their head coach. The players' response? "If Sampson isn't our coach, we'll quit." The source said this was the unified sentiment of the whole team, but was first expressed by the Hoosiers' senior leadership in a smaller meeting earlier Thursday. Greenspan and the players reached a stalemate in the second meeting, with the athletic director reportedly asking them if "the whole season should just be canceled."

The source also told SI.com that select players indicated they might be willing to soften their stance on quitting if a key change was made to Greenspan's proposed plan of succession. The school wanted to anoint Dakich, but the players' preferred choice was assistant Ray McCallum, who played a significant role in recruiting much of IU's current roster. Dakich was named an assistant coach Oct. 31 -- days after former IU assistant Rob Senderoff resigned his post as a result of the NCAA's investigation on Sampson and his staff -- and did not recruit any current IU players.

However, another IU source said later on Friday that an understanding had been reached between the athletic department and Hoosier players and Dakich would be the choice. But six players -- senior captain D.J. White, Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee --reportedly did not show up for a Friday practice that was led by Dakich.

Sampson, whom the NCAA accused of lying to its investigators during an inquiry into impermissible phone calls to recruits, apparently did not agree to a plea from Greenspan to resign either Thursday or Friday. Sampson expressed a desire, according to the source, "to just be allowed to coach the rest of this season -- and then he'd be willing to pack his bags after that." The coach is now likely to be officially fired at season's end.

IU officials, including Greenspan and president Michael McRobbie, met Thursday and Friday to discuss Sampson's fate. McRobbie had given Greenspan a Friday deadline to review the NCAA's allegations and make a decision regarding the head coach.

The NCAA released its report Feb. 8, accusing Sampson of five "major" recruiting violations. It was alleged that Sampson's actions -- by either participating in three-way calls with recruits, or speaking with recruits on assistant coach's cell phones -- broke restrictions the NCAA set after Sampson was caught committing similar violations at Oklahoma in 2006. Sampson is also accused of lying to NCAA investigators, which may turn out to be his most damning offense.

Amid this mess, Sampson has led the Hoosiers to a 22-4 record and a No. 15 ranking. A win Saturday over Northwestern would put IU into a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Purdue atop the Big Ten at 12-2, and the Hoosiers are projected to be a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. Sampson, however, will not be there to coach them in March