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SPORTS: A smorgasbord of sports, both good and bad

May 19, 2008

Of this, that and the other:

Indiana University has filed its official response to the NCAA infractions committee regarding the violations allegedly committed by former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

And Sampson has filed his response to IU's response. He believes he's been cast as a liar and a cheat.

If only it weren't true.

I'm also troubled by his complaint that the IU compliance staff didn't monitor the basketball coaches closely enough. How about some self-compliance, Kelvin?

Fact is, he appears to be in total denial, starting with that lame "I didn't knowingly break the rules" defense.

Judges just love hearing that one. So does the Internal Revenue Service.

The alleged impermissible phone calls aside, it has since become clear that Sampson's program was in shambles, both in terms of academics and accountability.

Now he wants everyone to feel sorry for him. I've got a suggestion: Take that $750,000 going-away money and go buy yourself some pity.

So suppose you're Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers, sitting there with the No. 11 pick in next month's draft, and you have been telling the world you desire either a center or a point guard with your selection.

Only there's hometown hero, shooting guard Eric Gordon, still available when you draft. Again, you're the Pacers, trying desperately to reignite your fan base.

I know what they did last time they were in that situation.

They took Reggie Miller instead of Steve Alford. You have to admit that turned out pretty well.

And while Gordon may be a fine young man, as an NBA player, he's a project. The Pacers need help now, not later.

While we're on the subject of the Pacers, suppose one of their players is being investigated in a shooting incident in his hometown, even though the police have not filed charges against that player.

You think that player would be guilty until proven innocent?

Or let's say the Pacers bring back a player with several questionable incidents in his recent background, including a drunk-driving arrest, a guilty plea to reckless driving, and a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Do you think the Pacers would be crucified-again-in the court of public opinion?

And please, I'm not trying to play the Pacers against the Colts, or vice versa. I want them both to be model franchises, on and off the field and court. I'm just saying that winning (or losing) sure alters perspective.

Like that first 'gate-Water-that was a steady drip, drip, drip until it turned into the torrent that brought down Richard Nixon, we now have the sports version, Spygate, which continues (or at least it should) to haunt New England coach Bill Belichick. Now, in addition to the infamous videotaping of defensive signals that cost the Patriots a draft choice and $750,000 last fall, former video assistant Matt Walsh has turned over to the NFL videotapes of opponents' offensive signals dating back to 2002.

Would it be a stretch to suggest there might have been similar videotaping going on between 2002 and 2007? I don't think so. But it appears the law-and-order commissioner, Roger Goodell, just wants Spygate to go away and let that slap on the wrist serve as Belichick's punishment.

Finally, this is the week that, I predict, will be a defining moment in Indianapolis sports history. I know I should be at best cautiously optimistic, but I firmly believe our city will be awarded the 2012 Super Bowl when the owners vote May 20 or 21.

I am not privy to the details of the bid that was delivered by our Central Indiana eighth-graders-the Class of 2012-May 9 to the owners, though that is another example of the creative genius of Jack Swarbrick and Mark Miles, who have orchestrated the 2012 effort. Nor do I have an inkling what last-second surprises Indianapolis will provide to the owners in the actual presentation.

I just can't believe the NFL owners would in good conscience say no to such a determined bid-as well as to Jim Irsay-a second year in a row.

Two other reasons, among many, I like Indy's chances. With the 2010 Super Bowl in Dallas, I'd like to think the owners wouldn't go to Texas two years in a row. And from all reports, the Phoenix area did less than a stellar job with this year's game. Some said it was so spread out it was difficult to tell the Super Bowl was in town.

It's our time.



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. To comment on this column, send e-mail to bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
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