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Sports Business

IU players threaten boycott

February 22, 2008
CBS Sports this morning is reporting that Indiana University men’s basketball players are threatening to boycott the remainder of the season if coach Kelvin Sampson is forced out. Quoting unidentified sources, CBS Sports reported that players and IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan had a heated exchange during a meeting last night.

According to the sources, after Greenspan informed players D.J. White, Eric Gordon, Kyle Taber, Lance Stemler and Adam Ahlfeld of his decision to fire or suspend Sampson, he called a meeting with the entire team in an attempt to prepare them for today’s official announcement that Sampson would not be on the sideline for the Hoosiers’ weekend game at Northwestern. Before Greenspan finished his statements, the sources told CBS that one of the IU players stood and insisted “if Sampson ain't coaching, we ain't playing” and that Greenspan responded with what he thought was a rhetorical question.

“Greenspan asked if he should just cancel the whole season,” one source told CBS Sports. “And the player told him, ‘We don’t care what you do. But if Sampson ain’t coaching, we ain’t playing.’ And then they just walked out.”

Several Indianapolis TV stations aired footage of disgruntled players leaving the meeting. Those players refused to talk, several of them-including D.J. White and Lance Stemler-pulling hoods over their heads and faces.

It is not clear what IU would do if the players boycotted, but with three road and two home games remaining-not to mention tournament games-it would be a financial and marketing nightmare. A player boycott would also be bad for Indianapolis, which is hosting this year’s Big Ten tournament and is counting on the red hot Hoosiers to drive ticket sales.

For more coverage on the fallout, read the upcoming print edition of IBJ.
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