Benner/Sports and NCAA and College Sports and Pro Sports and Sports Business

Those responsible for hiring Sampson at IU should show accountability

December 1, 2008
Of this, that and the other while wondering if any university would ever be so foolish, or desperate, to hire Kelvin Sampson again.

Sadly, I already know the answer: yes.

After 14 months of charges, hearings and deliberation, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions did the right thing by not slapping further sanctions on the Indiana University men's basketball program.

Three years of probation, the self-imposed scholarship limitations, national humiliation and Sampson's firing were deemed enough punishment.

Perhaps now we can all move on, though the disgrace will linger until new Coach Tom Crean can at least diminish its memory and new Athletics Director Fred Glass can demonstrate this history won't repeat itself.

Thanks, or no thanks, once again to former IU President Adam Herbert and his trustee cronies who insisted on bringing in the leopard from Oklahoma in hope that he would change his spots.

While the stain will never go away entirely, I still would like for those who were responsible for Sampson's hiring to be men enough to admit it.

But as we've seen in repeated examples from the financial world, accountability isn't what it used to be.

And speaking of the financial world, maybe the economy is so bad this time the sports bubble will finally burst.

Then again, maybe not. The New York Yankees have tendered a six-year, $140 million offer to Milwaukee pitcher CC Sabathia. And ESPN just ponied up $500 million for the rights to the Bowl Championship Series beginning in 2011.

Then again, maybe so. Johnson & Johnson has pulled out of its Olympics sponsorship. The LPGA schedule is shrinking. NASCAR is combining teams and losing sponsors. The Indy Racing League can't find a title sponsor.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is openly worried about the level of season-ticket renewals when they come due next spring and has hinted the NFL — the almighty NFL — might face budget shortfalls next year.

The NBA has reduced its work force and attendance is on the decline ... more on the Indiana Pacers in a moment.

Support for the funding of a $500 million ballpark for the Florida Marlins has gone south. One has to wonder what the situation would have been here if Lucas Oil Stadium were just now going on the drawing board. Timing is everything.

The New York Mets are moving into their new Citi Field. That would be Citi as in Citigroup, the latest beneficiary of a government bailout. Do we really want our federal tax dollars being spent on naming rights?

Team Marketing Report says it costs the average family of four nearly $400 to attend an NFL game, almost $300 for an NBA game or NHL game, and nearly $200 for Major League Baseball. Our family has Colts season tickets, but since we're in an upper level and don't spend lavishly at the concession stands, we're well under that $400 average. In good times, we haven't given it much thought. These are not good times.

I also have to wonder how Average Joe and JoAnn can afford those personal seat licenses being demanded as the Cowboys and the two New York teams prepare to open stadiums. Those run thousands of dollars just for the privilege to purchase season tickets.

Back to the Pacers. Bless the front-office team for giving it the old college try. Virtually every home game is preceded by the announcement of a ticket promotion-two-for-one deals, balcony seats for $5, discounts on concessions and apparel. They're doing their best to get folks in the building.

It is still a ways off, but I have a suggestion for a fill-the-fieldhouse promotion. On Jan. 28, Milwaukee comes calling with a certain disgraced coach on its bench. The Pacers should promote it as, "Come Boo Kelvin Sampson Night."

Back on the subject of IU —even in the wake of that 62-10 debacle at Purdue University, I still believe Bill Lynch deserves at least one more year as the IU football coach.

And finally, congrats to all in the successful 2015 Men's Final Four and 2016 Women's Final Four bids, spearheaded by the ever-capable Susan Baughman of Indiana Sports Corp. Even with home-field (court) advantage, the Indy folks approached the bids like they were going uphill and against the wind, taking zilch for granted.

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Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. Listen to his column via podcast at www.ibj.com. He can be reached at bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
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