Sonny Vaccaro, at one time or another, has been involved with Nike, Reebok, Adidas and Under Armour.
He’s been a friend and confidant for more players than you and I can count. He’s also been a one-man PR firm for others.
Now, at the age of 69, he’s fighting against the NCAA and NBA, claiming they’re making millions and trying to claim the moral high ground.
He spoke to a room of 200 or so Indiana students on Tuesday. I was there, and this is what he said. I’ll lead with what I asked him afterwards, about Indiana University, Kelvin Sampson and Tom Crean.
IT’S VERY INTERESTING WHAT YOU SAID, ABOUT BLAMING THE SYSTEM AND NOT THE INDIVIDUAL. IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK HAPPENED HERE?
“I think the system forces people, good people or bad people intended, to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. I hate to think that anyone would start saying, ‘I am going to do something illegal and something wrong.’ I think people wake up and think, ‘I got to win some basketball or football games.’ … Universities want it, and the NCAA wants it. ThatÂ¹s why the BCS exists. They don’t care if Utah is any good, they want to make sure Florida plays Southern Cal or somebody.”
I IMAGINE (KEEP IN MIND, VACCARO IS, ABOVE ALL ELSE, FOR PLAYERS’ RIGHTS) YOU WERE NOT HAPPY WITH WHAT HAPPENED TO PLAYERS FROM LAST YEAR’S TEAM.
“Look at what you just did. You just tore about a group of kids’ lives, and they had nothing to do with what Sampson did. Intentionally, or unintentionally, he did something that was wrong. But these kids were moved out, forced to do things that they really had nothing to do with and, in retrospect, Eric Gordon probably dropped five spots in the draft based on his freshman year, simply by playing for Indiana. They ruined everything. They really hurt kids that had nothing to do with it. That was wrong.”
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE INDIANA TO REGAIN NATIONAL PROMINENCE?
“I think Tommy (Crean) will have them back in two years. Tommy is respected. He’s a hard coach, but you know that going in. But he’ll teach them, and he’ll do it the right way. I’ve never heard anybody tell me, other than Tommy will work his kids hard, that he’ll do something wrong. That won’t ever happen. I would think, for a university like Indiana, where basketball is their god, that they would rebound in two years. Tommy will be in the tournament in two years.”
For his statements during the general speech, read after the jump.
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I was at New Albany last night to watch Bloomington North take on New Albany. The Bulldogs won easily, and clinched their second-straight undefeated regular season.
Hale, playing center, was easily the dominant force for New Albany. He’s 6-foot-7 and decently thick for a junior forward.
He had 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, missed his only free throw, had one block, two assists and five rebounds. New Albany did not miss many shots, and he only played three quarters, which explains a relatively low rebounding total.
North coach Andy Hodson has said multiple times that Hale is the best post player the Cougars see, and said after the game he may be the best in the state.
Indiana has one scholarship remaining for the class of 2010, and could go a variety of ways with it.
I talked to Hale afterwards, and this is what he had to say.
WHAT DO YOU THINK NEW ALBANY HAS THAT MAKES YOU A STATE TITLE CONTENDER?
“We have inside play and outside play. We have good chemistry, and can really get up and down the court.”
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH RECRUITING?
“I am going on a visit to Kentucky tomorrow (today, now). I am watching the LSU game. Virginia, Marquette, IU, Purdue and Xavier are looking at me.”
WHO DO YOU HAVE OFFERS FROM?
“I had offers from Xavier and Purdue, for scholarships. But other people already accepted those, so they’re still recruiting me and with transfers and stuff, they’re might be an opening.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IU IS CLOSE TO OFFERING YOU?
“They seem real interested right now. I went up to the Minnesota game and they saw me play there. I am not really sure, though.”
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR OUT OF A COLLEGE?
“Just to fit into a team. Feel comfortable with the coach, and make sure academics are important to him.”
DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE FOR COMMITTING?
“I’ll probably get it done before my senior year, so I can go and play without any pressure or anything.”
DecaturCentral head coach Dave Oberle, left, awards Indiana University guard Devan Dumes an honorary game ball for being Decatur Central’s All time leading scorer before the Bloomington South Decatur Central High School boys basketball game at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. Â Chris Howell | Herald-TimesÂ
Mike DeCourcy of the SportingNews.com has put together a fairly long Q&A from an exclusive interview with Kelvin Sampson in which Sampson says he was numb when he heard the NCAA had given him a five-year show cause penalty, saying, “It just didn’t register.”
Sampson continues to maintain that he had no idea that he had participated in any three-way calls and bristles that the media used the word unethical to describe his behavior. He says he never had any intent to break any rules and the NCAA treated him harshly and unfairly.
You can read the entire Q&A by clicking here.