Crean makes controversial hire

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Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean today hired an assistant with deep ties to former coach Kelvin Sampson. Over the next week, you can bet the school’s trustees along with Crean and IU President Michael McRobbie will be asked about the hire of 37-year-old Bennie Seltzer.

Crean today also hired former Ball State head coach Tim Buckley as an assistant. Crean still has one more assistant to hire, and university sources said he is weighing his options between another former assistant with unwanted links to IU’s dark and not-so-distant past–Jason Rabedeaux–and someone with more positive IU ties, say a former Hoosiers player. Crean, who was hired as IU’s head coach April 2, has been mum on his choice of assistants until now. Even after today’s hires, IU didn’t exactly trumpet the announcement.

Seltzer spent the past two years at Marquette but has a long history with Sampson, who was run out of Bloomington in February amid accusations that he committed five major NCAA rule violations. Seltzer played for Sampson at Washington State, then spent nine years as his assistant at Oklahoma including the years Sampson first ran afoul of NCAA rules for impermissible phone calls to recruits. Sources within the university said Crean had several in-depth conversations with IU athletic director Rick Greenspan before the hire was made. Crean is pushing to get his assistant coaching staff on board as a key recruiting period began recently and runs through May 21.

Sources at IU said trustees had some misgivings about hiring someone on the basketball staff with such close ties to Sampson, and are dreading the media attention the hire could receive. But Crean assured Greenspan and other IU higher ups that Seltzer is squeaky clean.

Buckley was Crean’s top assistant at Marquette in 1999-2000, before taking over at BSU. He compiled a 143-139 in six seasons at Ball State, spent the 2006-07 year under Steve Alford at Iowa before joining Crean last season.

While sources said Crean would like to hire Rabedeaux, IU officials are pressing him to consider someone with deep IU roots, said sources within the university.

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.

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