Sat, May 27, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Sampson and Oklahoma incur the wrath of NCAA


The NCAA punished Oklahoma and its former coach Kelvin Sampson on Thursday for recruiting violations.

Some of the penalties will also apply to Sampson's new team, Indiana, one of them barring him from making telephone calls to recruits and visiting them off campus for a year.

The NCAA's committee on infractions cited 577 impermissible telephone calls to recruits made by Sampson and three assistants (233 by Sampson himself) from 2000 to 2004. Of the 17 recruits involved, five enrolled at Oklahoma.

The committee called the infractions "willful violations," and pointed out that Sampson, as the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches from 2003 to 2004, had presided over an ethics summit during that time.

Oklahoma was censured and placed on probation for two years. The committee accepted sanctions that Oklahoma placed on itself, including two fewer scholarships for the coming season and one fewer the next, fewer recruiting visits and fewer recruiting calls.

Thomas Yeager, the commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association and the committee's acting chairman, said Sampson had acknowledged the violations, "but did not take them seriously compared to material inducements for recruits."

The committee, following custom, did not name the individuals involved. It said in a statement:

"This case is the result of the former head coach's complete disregard for NCAA guidelines for proper telephone contacts with recruits. The former head coach created and encouraged an atmosphere among his staff of deliberate noncompliance, rationalizing the violations as being a result of `prioritizing' rules."

Sampson is out of the country as part of an eight-team military basketball tournament in Kuwait. In a statement, he said, "I have learned an invaluable lesson, and I hope that this reinforces to other coaches the importance of every aspect of NCAA compliance."

Sampson, 50, coached Oklahoma for 12 years. Indiana, which hired him two months ago despite knowing he was being investigated, said it would not appeal.

It also said it would accept limitations that Oklahoma put on Sampson's contract: His salary will be frozen at US$1.01 million for two years, and he will not receive performance bonuses.

Patrick Shoulders, an Indiana trustee, told AP, "Obviously, we anticipated some type of sanction, and this one seems to fit these minor infractions."

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