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Sports Business

IU phone flap packs financial sting

February 13, 2008
With the revelation that the NCAA discovered more possible wrongdoings by Indiana University basketball coach Kelvin Sampson than the school reported in October, the embattled coach and his boss, athletic director Rick Greenspan, could become marketing liabilities for the school at the worst possible time.

The NCAA sent a notice of allegations to IU on Feb. 8 detailing major violations in its men's basketball program. The school will make the NCAA’s allegations public later today. The NCAA will not rule on the matter until June, but the court of public opinion could hurt advertising sales and corporate relations much sooner.

“When a coach is allowed to continue under these circumstances, it sends the wrong message,” said David Morton, a local sports marketer who formerly worked in sales for IU Sports Properties, a division of Missouri-based Learfield Sports.

Sampson, who was busted at Oklahoma even before his phone transgressions in Bloomington, is quickly becoming a deterrent to sales and marketing efforts within IU’s athletic department, and may become the fall guy if it continues, sports marketers said. But increasingly, sources close to IU said, Greenspan is feeling the heat. He doesn’t seem to be helping himself. Greenspan is readily available when it's time to trumpet the school’s good news, but when there’s bad news or controversy, he’s nowhere to be found, sports marketers complained. Greenspan has been unavailable to multiple media outlets since word of the recent NCAA findings surfaced late last week.

IU’s situation could be exacerbated due to the rise of the basketball programs at Butler, Notre Dame and Purdue this year. “There’s a compounded effect, which [IU officials] need to take seriously,” Morton said.

Meanwhile a capital campaign--with about $85 million earmarked for the athletic department--is underway at IU.

How much do you think Sampson and Greenspan will hurt IU with advertisers and donors?
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