Kelvin Sampson Fallout: Let's Not Punish Indiana's Players

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2008

Kelvin Sampson has committed the same crime twice.

He has earned a punishment as harsh as maybe being banned from ever coaching in the NCAA again. There are rules set to specifically outline how recruiting should be done, and apparently Coach Sampson has a hard time following these rules.

However, should his punishment affect his players? Is it fair to hurt these kids' chance at a Big Ten Title and maybe a Final Four run?

In its last two games, IU has beat two of the top teams in the Big Ten (Michigan State and Purdue). These kids seem to be rallying and playing hard. They have lost twice to Wisconsin—which may hurt their chances of the Big Ten crown, however, with these last two solid wins, it seems these players want to make a statement.

These are players that did not break any rules and came to IU for its tradition and for a chance to compete for a national title. This is a school whose tradition was set by a controversial figure in Bobby Knight. He was loud, he was obnoxious and he had a harsh style of coaching.

With all that being said, he never had any issues like this. He won his national titles fairly and put IU on the map.

Kelvin Sampson seemed to be getting IU back to that level.

After several years out of the national championship picture, IU seems to be back as a national power, and to take that away from these players, and even the students who love this team, would be an injustice to all parties. 

As for Coach Sampson, as I stated above, he deserves whatever punishment he gets. He obviously handled himself in an unethical manner toward IU officials who hired and trusted him. These people trusted him enough to not have a group monitor how he goes about his business.

Coach Sampson betrayed their trust and is running the IU name through the mud. It is understandable that IU officials would want him out as soon as this week, and clean up the IU name.

However, IU officials have a responsibility to the players as well.

With that said, I believe Coach Sampson should be coach the rest of this season, knowing that he will never coach again. The players will know that this is their Coaches last year.

The players deserve this and if need be, they can use this as motivation. I am sure Coach Sampson is a good person to all these kids, and they all love and respect him, and would want to win for him.

It is unfair to punish the kids and rip away their hopes for a national championship.

In addition, a successful tournament run would help IU's next coach in recruiting. Firing Coach Sampson now, and hurting this team's chance to win, would affect this program's future big time.

This is a team made up of lots of freshmen and JUCO players, so the leadership that is needed to make a tournament run is questionable. Obviously, DJ White is a great player and a senior leader, but he cannot do it himself.

Of course, these players can rally around any coach whether it be Sampson, or his successor (especially if that successor is named Bobby Knight) and make a run at the Final Four regardless. I just hope they have it in them to do this. 

When the season ends, Coach Sampson should be fired, at which point these players will have to make other decisions like whether to transfer, or to jump to the NBA if they can. Let's make them make their decisions in April and May, rather than in February and March.

Coach Sampson's wrongdoings should not spill over onto the kids.