Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


IU team sends wrong message

In my column last week, I urged the NCAA to severely punish
Indiana head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson for violating five major
recruiting policies (for a second time), should IU Athletic Director Rick
Greenspan not take action.

Well, Greenspan took action Friday as he forced Sampson to
accept a $750,000 buyout (not bad for a two-time cheater), which subsequently
terminated the remainder of his contract.

In protest, six IU players ? including senior captain and
Big Ten Player of the Year candidate D.J. White (who was not recruited by
Sampson, which makes it that much more ridiculous) ? skipped practice Friday
afternoon, which happened to be the day before the Hoosiers had a game
scheduled against Northwestern. At that time on Friday, it was unknown whether
those six players would travel with the team (the No. 15 team in country, which
also happened to be tied for first place in the Big Ten, mind you) to Evanston,


Not only did those six players play Saturday as the Hoosiers
almost became the Wildcats? first Big Ten prey of the season, but the majority
of the Indiana players wrote ?K.S.? in red marker on their sneakers as a
tribute to their former coach, or ?father,? as IU freshman guard Eric Gordon
referred to Sampson.

Much like when the Atlanta Falcons? D?Angelo Hall and Roddy
White wore ?Free Mike Vick? T-shirts underneath their game jerseys to honor
their former teammate (and recent criminal), this just doesn?t settle well with

I understand the concept of paying homage to one?s teammate
or friend. Had Sampson died or been hospitalized for some reason, a tribute of
some sort would certainly be appropriate, just as many NFL players wore the ?21?
sticker on the back of their helmets following the tragic death of Redskins
safety Sean Taylor. But at some point morals and ethics must become a
recognizable factor. Maybe Sampson was a father figure to these players, but by
honoring him a day after he left campus for cheating, these players are
standing up for a liar against the integrity of their university.

There?s a reason why you don?t see Andy Pettitte ? Roger
Clemens? friend and former teammate ? roaming the streets with a sign reading ?Leave
Roger Alone!? Everyone would see that as a pro-steroid stance instead of simply
being a good friend.

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick got caught red-handed for
?Spygate,? his players showed their support by quietly congratulating him on
the sideline after their next win over the Chargers, not by wearing ?BB?
stickers on their arms. (Granted, He Who Wears the Hooded Sweatshirt wasn’t
fired, but you get the point).

Since 1960, the Indiana basketball program has been seen as
one of the most (if not the most) prestigious programs in the nation. Bob
Knight had his issues in Bloomington, but IU hadn?t been subject to an NCAA
investigation in 48 years.

Until this month, of course.

In April 2006, Sampson stood on the floor of Assembly Hall
and addressed the IU student body for the first time since being introduced as
the Hoosiers? new head coach. He acknowledged the recruiting violations he made
while at Oklahoma and promised (yes, promised) the IU faithful that he would
graduate his players, win titles and play by the rules.

Talk about an empty promise.

Former Indiana basketball All-American Kent Benson got rid
of his season tickets in protest to Sampson?s actions. He told the Indianapolis
Star he would not step foot into Assembly Hall again until both Sampson and
Greenspan were fired.

Now, at least he?s got one foot back in the door.

Dallas Mavericks owner and IU alum Mark Cuban also said the
release of Sampson was a ?step in the right direction.? So it?s not as if
Hoosier Nation has been backing Sampson since this controversy arose. In fact,
it?s been quite the opposite.

Unless you play for the Indiana basketball team.

Greenspan made a mistake in hiring Sampson in the first
place, but he is not to blame. I blame the IU players.

Athletes need to realize that they are role models. Their
every action and every word are blown out of proportion in the media. Sometimes
they?re justified, other times they may not be. But the point is, by playing
basketball at Indiana University they chose to be under the spotlight, so they
need to understand the repercussions.

Their former coach smacked Greenspan ? the man who gave
Sampson a second chance and a clean slate ? in the face by lying to him two
Aprils ago.

And now these players smacked Greenspan on the other cheek,
by honoring the man who has now severely tarnished the integrity of Indiana


Derek is a sophomore
majoring in economics. If you think that the Hoosiers? tribute to Sampson was
justified, or you just want to talk college hoops, you can e-mail him at [email protected].

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