If Kelvin Sampson has coached his last game as head man at Indiana University, then at least his players sent him out with a bang. They beat up their in-state rival, Purdue at Assembly Hall Tuesday night. It was as if the players and fans have circled the wagons around Sampson. This may not be enough. Drumbeats around Bloomington are saying that Sampson will be suspended for the rest of the season, starting with their game in Evanston against Northwestern this Saturday. This time, the crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena may not be so kind or understanding. That's life on the road in the Big 10.
This indeed may be the end. Sampson may or may not have to fall on his sword, given the circumstances. The NCAA doesn't like cheating of any kind. It's sort of like going to Vegas and taking your own cards to the Blackjack table. At the same time, let's give Sampson and the school the benefit of a doubt. Freshman guard Eric Gordon told a reporter after the Michigan State game, “We’ve been through adversity this whole year. It’s been tough for us and for Coach, but we just focus on playing the game.” The team has rallied around him and one can guess they will fight this thing for as long as possible. It may be months, years even. This may even leave a stain on Indiana men's basketball if the wrongdoing is true. It would be a loss to the school. It would also be a loss to the reputation of Kelvin Sampson, making him an undesirable coach to direct a Division 1 men's basketball program.
Before we plant the Scarlet Letter "C" for cheater on Kelvin Sampson's chest, like Hawthorne's character Hester Prynne, let's be careful to look at every piece of evidence presented. Not an easy task, considering that the NCAA believes you are guilty and you have to prove you're not. Let's hope that this program rises to the occasion and acts like the class act they are being now.
Let's hope the sword of Damocles doesn't fall on Kelvin Sampson or Indiana.