We began hearing about Sampson’s newest recruiting violations on Thursday, the same day rumors of them were posted on the message boards at www.HoosierNation.com. A day earlier we had been guests at Kelvin Sampson’s home for an annual media luncheon, and had chatted with Rob Senderoff, a bright, eager young assistant coach.
On Thursday I was also working on figuring out which recruits were headed this way for Hoosier Hysteria, and it was an impressive list. Especially the New York contingent of Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Lance Stephenson and Dexter Strickland. That’s Senderoff’s territory.
When I first started getting word of this story on Thursday, I thought it was strange timing with Hoosier Hysteria a day away. So my first instinct was that it was a hoax originating from the message boards. But then I started getting better sources telling me that there was a raging fire causing what I considered to be just light smoke.
So at 8:30 I called an IU source to ask if there was any truth to what we were hearing. He promised me that there was none. I felt slightly reassured, but went to meet with Doug for dinner anyway to talk about pursuing the story. We both agreed that the next two days, with Hoosier Hysteria and one of the biggest football games in a long time for the Hoosiers scheduled, would leave us little time to do the necessary investigative work.
Friday went off without the slightest bump. Sampson hosted a breakfast benefit that raised almost $50,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer and brought several former players back to express hope for the future of the program.
Hoosier Hysteria later that night was an almost flawless event, with thousands of fans packed into the gym to see Eric Gordon — who they knew all about but couldn’t wait to see anyway — and five other newcomers who they hadn’t gotten to know yet. And Sampson started the night out with two announcements that ignited the crowd: Eli Holman had finally received word that he was eligible this season and DeAndre Thomas had, for the first time since arriving in May, weighed in at under 300 pounds.
After writing late into Friday night we headed out to East Lansing Saturday morning. The calls about the violations started again. We just couldn’t figure out how to get the story.
Then, an e-mail confirming the news came from IU media relations at 11:01. Now, we’re awaiting a 1 p.m. teleconference and heading back to Bloomington.