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Herald-Times articles

March 29, 2006

Sampson likely for IU; Kelvin Sampson expected to leave Oklahoma for IU
by Doug Wilson
March 29, 2006

Even Kelvin Sampson's players had no idea their coach was considering leaving Oklahoma for Indiana University.

After days of furious speculation among Hoosier fans about who the next IU basketball coach would be, the news that arrived Tuesday afternoon had to be a surprise to many.

Several different coaches had been rumored in recent days to be potential IU targets, but Sampson's name was rarely mentioned.

The 50-year-old has coached at Oklahoma for 12 years, compiling a 279-109 record. He lost to IU in his only trip to the Final Four in 2002.

Sampson issued a statement Tuesday afternoon. "I love my job at Oklahoma and I would not leave Oklahoma for any job unless it was a job like Indiana," Sampson said in the statement, reported on the Web site of Oklahoma City's NewsChannel 4.

"My family and I have had 12 great years at Oklahoma, the best years of our life, but Indiana is one of the greatest programs in college basketball, and if they call and offer, it is a job as a coach that you have to take."

IU has made no announcement about Sampson. IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre and IU basketball spokesman Aaron Jordan said they had no information about IU hiring Sampson.

Various sources say an IU news conference announcing the hiring could come as early as this afternoon. But there has been no official word from IU about a news conference.

Reports say Sampson told his players at noon Tuesday that he will be IU's next coach.

According to Oklahoma center Longar Longar, quoted in the Oklahoman, players received a text message Tuesday morning announcing a meeting with Sampson.

"Coach walked in and told us he's making a tough decision," Longar said. "Well, he made it over the weekend when he was offered the Indiana job. He said he's taking it.

"It was real quiet in the room. Coach Sampson had done a lot of great things in 12 years here. So, none of us saw this coming."

In addition to putting together nine straight 20-win seasons at Oklahoma, Sampson was named national coach of the year in 1995 and 2002.

The Sooners finished 20-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma was a sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost to 11th-seeded Milwaukee-Wisconsin in the first round.

One possible cloud over Sampson's hiring is an ongoing NCAA investigation of his program at Oklahoma for violations of rules about phone calls to basketball recruits.

Oklahoma has recently submitted a response to the NCAA explaining the circumstances that led to more than 550 impermissible telephone contacts with at least 17 recruits. The contacts were made by Sampson and three assistant coaches between April 2000 and September 2004.

What the Sam Hill is a Sooner?

As if we don't spend enough time trying to explain what a Hoosier is, now that Kelvin Sampson is coming here from Oklahoma, we have to know what a Sooner is!

The origin of the Oklahoma nickname is a little less murky than the origin of Indiana's, which is still open to dispute.

Here's the story, as related on

In 1889, the U.S. government opened up 2 million acres of Oklahoma Territory to homesteaders.

To claim a lot of land, prospective settlers had to participate in a land run. They lined up and waited for the blast of a shotgun to signal the beginning of the run, at which point they would race eagerly to claim a homestead. A "Sooner" was someone who snuck past the territory markers ahead of the gunshot to get an early start.

Today Oklahoma is known as the Sooner State, and the various athletic teams of the University of Oklahoma are called the Sooners. The official mascot of the University of Oklahoma is the Sooner Schooner, a covered wagon drawn by two horses named Sooner and Boomer, and the school fight song is "Boomer Sooner."

So what is a Boomer, you ask? According to the school's Web site, "Boomers where those who by constant agitation tried to bring about the opening of Oklahoma to settlers before 1889."

And with that we'll leave you with these inspirational words:

"I'm a Sooner-born and Sooner-bred, and when I die, I'll be Sooner-dead."

IU fans greet news with excitement, optimism
by James Boyd
March 29, 2006

Reaction to the expected hiring of Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson was pretty positive Tuesday, everywhere except Internet message boards.

There, the daggers were a little sharper.

As the diehard fans debated the sanity of IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan on, people downtown had little negativity toward IU's new coach.

"I know he's been one of the top 10 coaches in terms of having consecutive 20-win seasons," said Jeremy Stidham. "I'm pretty excited."

Most people interviewed said they were excited to have someone new take over the program, but others knew little about Sampson's background.

Part of that was because IU hadn't made an official announcement yet about Sampson's hiring.

"I think he's a solid coach," Murat Kacen said. "He's a highly qualified coach; I think we're lucky to have him. We're lucky he wants to leave a program like Oklahoma to come here."

Kacen said with IU's history, Sampson has an opportunity to contribute to the legacy of the program if he succeeds. "Indiana's such a storied tradition," Kacen said. "(It's) the equivalent of Notre Dame football and Chicago Bears football ... you're talking about decades upon decades of great basketball."

Some were surprised to hear Sampson had gotten the job.

"He wasn't anyone who anybody expected," Cody Fosdick said, after following the consistent rumors put forth by most media outlets. Most had anticipated Iowa's Steve Alford or Marquette University's Tom Crean to be the leading candidates for the job.

But, Fosdick said, IU needed a proven recruiter who can come in and sell potential players on IU basketball.

"I'm a huge supporter of IU basketball," he said. "I think he's good, I think he'll be really good. He did a lot for OU in terms of their program. Maybe he's someone who's ready for the bigger stage."

About Kelvin Sampson


• 23 years overall: 455-257 (.639)

• 12 years at Oklahoma: 279-109 (.719)


• Michigan State, graduate assistant coach, 1979-80

• Montana Tech, assistant coach, 1980

• Montana Tech, head coach, 1981-85

• Washington State, assistant coach, 1986-87

• Washington State, head coach, 1988-94

• Oklahoma, head coach, 1995- 2006


• Born Oct. 5, 1955, in Laurinburg, N.C. (raised in Pembroke, N.C.)

• Wife Karen, daughter Lauren and son Kellen


• Pembroke (N.C.) High School, '74

• B.S. degree, Pembroke State, '78

• M.A. degree, Michigan State, '80

Behrman grand jury still on track

Greenspan swings for the fences
by Stan Sutton
March 29, 2006

It would appear Rick Greenspan has hit another home run.

The upcoming announcement of Kelvin Sampson as the new Indiana basketball coach took most of us by surprise. Sampson, who has a winning percentage of .719 at Oklahoma, had been but a fleeting blip on the radar screen before Tuesday.

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, but in this case IU athletic director Greenspan saw through a confusing scenario and plucked an outstanding coach.

His earlier hires of Terry Hoeppner, Sharon Versyp and Terry Smith were highly praised, but the latest hire will determine Greenspan's legacy.

I can speak firsthand for Sampson's charisma. In the summer of 2002, shortly after Indiana had defeated his Sooners in the Final Four, Sampson was in Indianapolis as an assistant coach for the U.S. team in the World Basketball Championship.

I recall being a bit hesitant to talk about what had to be a sore subject with him, but Sampson was only too willing to discuss the Hoosiers' victory. In fact, he wisecracked about his team's scouting report on IU forward Jeff Newton.

"After Newton made about his fourth jump shot I finally looked around at my assistant with the scouting report and told him, 'You may want to put down on the next one that this kid can shoot.' "

Oklahoma, which was blessed with athletes, was favored that day but the Hoosiers won, 73-64. Thursday marks the four-year anniversary of that game.

Sampson especially liked one aspect of that Indiana team, its consistency.

"Guys like (Dane) Fife and (Tom) Coverdale are never going to have great highs. But, you know what, they're never going to have great lows, either," he said.

Sampson's reason for becoming a Hoosier probably were summarized that day when he said, "Indiana is synonymous with great basketball and is a great basketball state. We haven't always had that (at Oklahoma)."

I'm not turned off by the NCAA's investigation into Oklahoma's basketball program, which involves alleged improper phone calls and some improper distribution of T-shirts.

Sampson's successes would seem comparable to those of John Calipari, the Memphis coach whose name surfaced over the weekend. Additionally, giving away T-shirts pales in comparison to some of Calipari's baggage, such as calling a reporter a "Mexican idiot" while coach of the New Jersey Nets.

I also wondered why the University of Pittsburgh, where Calipari had been an assistant, didn't even give him a courtesy call when it changed coaches two years ago.

There also was the incident in which former Temple coach John Chaney wanted to "kill" Calipari during a press conference following a game.

Sampson brings a less complicated background. He's been a successful coach while playing in one of the nation's deepest conferences. He's held his own against the likes of Eddie Sutton, Bill Self and, yes, Bob Knight.

I'm betting he will meet with disgruntled Hoosiers Robert Vaden and D.J. White and charm them into remaining with the team. If so, there's no reason why IU can't have a good season in 2006-07 and see its successes grow from there.

Former Hoosier players impressed with Sampson hiring
by Lynn Houser
March 29, 2006

Based on the early reactions of former Indiana University players, new head coach Kelvin Sampson won't have trouble enlisting the support of the Hoosier nation.

"I really think it's a great hire for the program," said Tom Coverdale, who played against Sampson's Oklahoma team when IU met the Sooners in the 2002 Final Four and came away with a 73-64 victory.

"The thing I remember is how physical they were," Coverdale said. "They were probably the most physical team we faced, and that was a direct result of him."

Another member of the IU team that played against Oklahoma in 2002 was guard Kyle Hornsby, now studying medicine at IU.

"I remember how talented they were," Hornsby said. "We had some things go our way for us to win that game. They could have easily won. They were very good defensively, just a very good team. I don't think they got the credit they deserved that year and the credit overall."

"He's always had pretty good teams," said Landon Turner, a starting forward on IU's 1981 national champions. "He's been to the tournament 10 of the last 11 years."

"He's done a fine job at Oklahoma," said John Laskowski, a member of Bob Knight's first recruiting class. "They have always been a football school and he brought them some basketball success."

With the Indiana coaching situation now settled, recruiting is the next step, Turner said.

"The reason why Indiana kids weren't going to IU was because Mike Davis's job was up in the air - the rumor mill and everything."

"It's important for him to be able to reach out to the high school coaches and grab our share of players from the state of Indiana," Laskowski said.

Coverdale, an assistant coach at Louisiana-Monroe, has been keeping a close eye on the IU situation.

"Obviously, Coach Davis made a choice that was best for the program, and you have to respect that," he said. "We just have to move forward and look to the future now. We need to wish Coach Sampson the best and try to get back to being one of the elite programs in the country."

"I like what (athletic director) Rick Greenspan is doing," Turner said. "He's trying to get our tradition back - football, basketball, everything. I think he made a big decision. I think this is going to get us back on the map, get us back to the Big Dance."

"I had confidence that Mr. Greenspan would choose somebody who will do a good job, who will represent the university well," Hornsby said. "All his teams played hard, are talented and are disciplined. I think he is going to do well."

Sampson 'solid' coach, man; Oklahoma physican praises new IU coach's character
by Doug Wilson
March 29, 2006

Don Halverstadt was sad to hear Kelvin Sampson is leaving Oklahoma, but excited to think of what Sampson will accomplish at Indiana.

Halverstadt is a physician in Oklahoma City who played college basketball and helped recruit Sampson to coach at Oklahoma 12 years ago. Later, for eight years, Halverstadt traveled with Oklahoma's team and sat on the bench at games to help with players' medical needs.

He watched as Sampson earned national coach of the year honors in his first season at Oklahoma, when the Sooners went 23-9. And when Sampson won the award again in 2002 after his team won 31 games before being upset by Indiana in the Final Four.

He observed Sampson's basketball teams, playing at a football school, making the NCAA field every year, except one, 2004, when injuries devastated a squad that hobbled into the NIT. Those successes impressed Halverstadt, but not as much as seeing the personal interest Sampson took in his players and their families.

Sampson's home in Norman is like a second home to his players, Halverstadt said, and academics are a big part of life there. That approach resulted in about eight of the team's 12 players having a GPA over 3.0 last semester, Halverstadt said.

"I have never known anybody in my life who is as solid as Kelvin is," Halverstadt said in a phone interview. "He is a man of great integrity. He's a man who cares about these kids beyond basketball.

"He's a very demanding coach. It's kind of a tough-love situation, but the guys would do anything for him."

Clay Horning, sports editor at the Norman Transcript, said you can see Sampson's personality in a drill he likes to use in practice - the bubble drill. It consists of two lids being placed over the baskets, and players running their ordinary sets, with points awarded for rebounds.

Official says all evidence in the case could be heard by mid-April
by Bethany Nolan
March 29, 2006

A grand jury investigation into the death of Jill Behrman is progressing, officials said Tuesday.

They aren't giving out many details about the process, in which people are subpoenaed to testify in secret before six grand jurors.

First Sgt. Dave Bursten, a spokesman with the Indiana State Police, said Tuesday the grand jury appears to be on track to hear all evidence in the case by mid-April.

"Of course, there's no fixed schedule," he said.

The next step would be grand jurors deliberating on that evidence, he said.

It is impossible to put a timeline on that process, Bursten said.

The grand jury was convened March 13.

Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega didn't return a call seeking comment on the process. Previously, his office had issued a brief statement: "After the grand jury has heard all of the evidence and renders a decision, we will be available to comment on the case at that time."

Behrman disappeared in May 2000 while riding her bicycle in Monroe County. Her remains were found three years later in a rural part of Morgan County.

No one has been arrested or charged in connection with her disappearance and death.

Reward generates no helpful tips on missing IUPUI student
Associated Press
March 29, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS - A $100,000 reward offered for information about missing college student Molly Dattilo has generated only dead-end tips, authorities say, and the reward is set to expire Friday.

Dattilo, 23, of Madison, an Eastern Kentucky University student who had been attending summer classes at IUPUI, was last seen the evening of July 6, 2004, walking to an Indianapolis fast-food restaurant to apply for a job.

"Frankly, I am surprised that a $100,000 reward has not brought forward a more substantial lead," said Marion County Sheriff's Detective Catherine Byron. "But I still believe someone, somewhere knows something; for whatever reason, money is not a motivation for that person or persons."

Molly's sister Kendra Skidmore, 34, says her family no longer believes Dattilo is alive. But she says they will continue to search for information and are hoping someone comes forward before the reward expires.

She said her family is living with extreme sorrow every day because they do not know what happened to Dattilo.

"It's complete hell," Skidmore said. "It's like taking sorrow and grief and pain and stretching it out. You can't get past it because there is no closure of any kind."

Fifth Third Bank announced last year that an anonymous donor had established the reward for information leading to Dattilo and to the arrest and conviction of those involved in her disappearance.