Crean's staff has Sampson ties

April 2, 2008
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CreanIf Indiana University officials sought a clean break from former men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, their hire of Marquette’s Tom Crean failed to do so. Two of Crean’s four assistant coaches have a long history with Sampson. Now marketers wonder how IU will spin this.

Crean, who signed an eight-year $18.24 million deal to coach IU, was introduced as the school’s head coach at a press conference today.

By all accounts, Crean has assembled a top-flight assistant coaching staff that many observers expect will follow him to Indiana. Tim Buckley was the head coach at Ball State for six years, and Buzz Williams was the former head coach at New Orleans.

While assistants Bennie Seltzer and Jason Rabedeaux have impressive resumes, they also have some deep-rooted Sampson ties.

Rabedeaux, who was director of basketball operations under Crean at Marquette, was an assistant under Sampson from 1989 to 1999, first at Washington State and then at Oklahoma. After leaving Sampson’s side, he spent three years as the UTEP head coach. Rabedeaux has spent the last four years at Marquette.

Seltzer, one of Crean’s recruiting aces, was on the Oklahoma staff alongside Sampson for nine years, departing for Marquette when Sampson left for IU. That puts Seltzer at Oklahoma when Sampson first ran afoul of NCAA regulations. Seltzer also played under Sampson at Washington State.

“This couldn’t be stranger if you made it up,” said a marketer within IU.

Crean indicated at his introductory press conference today, that his current staff would be considered for IU jobs.

“In nine years at Marquette, this is as good a staff as I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some really good assistant coaches,” Crean said.

David Morton, president of Sunrise Sports Marketing Group, a local sports marketing consultancy, said IU must deal with this issue proactively, especially if Crean decides to bring his assistants with him to Bloomington as college coaches often do.

“Any affiliation these guys have with Kelvin Sampson will have to be addressed and addressed head-on,” said Morton, who formerly worked in sales and marketing for Indiana University Sports Properties. “I think Tom Crean and the university will be hyper sensitive about anything that could further dent the school’s armor at this point.”

Do you think Crean should be allowed to bring the former Sampson associates with him to IU?
  • I think this story is really reaching to try to find a negative angle. Most often the same assistants don't follow the coach. I think the premise of this whole article was really trying to intentionally find something to go against the conventional wisdom, which is that Tom Crean was an excellent hire.
  • your probably the idiot that was loving it when we didn't investigate the hiring of kelvin sampson more, i believe the basketball state of indiana is paranoid and must look into these stories. rich crean is an excellent coach so was kelvin, kelvin proved not to be an excellent hire and crean has proven nothing
  • If Obama can 'spin off' his pastor's comments as like having a bad uncle, I am sure the Sampson assistance can claim Kelvin is like a bad uncle.....I do not approve of everything he does but he is still my uncle

    Go Hoosiers
  • If I was IU I would want nothing to do with anyone relating to Sampson. I hope they did all their research on these guys.
  • As an IU alum, I've got to tell you this is a completely legit issue, and IU higher-ups better be ready to address it. Alums, especially money giving alums, want to know!
  • I don't think this angle is negative at all. Research would show that when coaches go from one big time job to another they typically do take at least part of their staff with them. For example, Roy Williams took his entire staff from Kansas to North Carolina. I think the Sampson connections need to be addressed but I also choose to look at the positive side. If these assistants aren't allowed to come to Bloomington, in my mind that opens up the opportunity on the bench (and remember, there are only three assistant spots on any D-1 bench) for Crean to put a guy with IU ties into one of those spots.
  • I think the question that needs to be asked is--has this issue been proactively addressed by IU leaders, Pres. McRobbie and the search committee in particular. If they let this issue slip by in their due dilligence process that says a lot. The second question is, will they mandate what assistants Crean can and can't bring to IU. Coaches usually don't like that kind of micro management. Or if given latitude on this, how he handles this will be a tell tale sign about Crean. This is a very big deal on a number of levels. As Sampson's assistants for nine or 10 years, you have to believe these two guys knew--and supported--what was going on in Sampson's program.

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