Sampson announced as new Indiana coach


INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana will hire Kelvin Sampson as its next basketball coach, taking him from an Oklahoma team under the cloud of a recruiting investigation to lead one of the most prestigious programs in the country.

Sampson broke the news to his Sooner team yesterday, the same day Indiana players were informed, one of the Hoosier players’ relatives told The Associated Press.

Details were being worked out yesterday afternoon, and the deal was expected to be announced shortly, said a person close to the talks who requested anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. No news conference was scheduled.

“I was caught by surprise a little bit,” said Taylor Griffin, a freshman forward for the Sooners. “He made the decision. I guess it’s better for the program. I guess it’s better for him.”

The 50-year-old Sampson, AP’s Coach of the Year in 1995, will replace Mike Davis, who announced last month he was resigning. Davis went 115-79 in six seasons as head coach, and he was the first Indiana coach to win 20 games in each of his first three seasons and led the Hoosiers to the national championship game in 2002, two seasons after Bob Knight was fired.

The Hoosiers were 19-12 this year and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Gonzaga.

Stephanie Gilbert, who help raised nephew A.J. Ratliff in Indianapolis, said the Hoosiers’ sophomore guard called her yesterday to discuss the change, first reported by ESPN. Gilbert also said it was likely Ratliff would stay at Indiana.

“He’s looking forward to meeting him and getting to know him,” Gilbert said. “He seems pretty happy.”

Ratliff declined to comment and denied that a team meeting was held. Two other key Indiana players had said after Davis resigned that they were apt to transfer: D.J. White, the 2005 Big Ten freshman of the year, and Robert Vaden.

Gilbert said Sampson’s hiring could change their minds.

“Once they meet with him, they’ll probably need to see,” Gilbert said. “I think, from the looks of it, they have a pretty good coach on their hands.”

Oklahoma officials declined to comment yesterday. Telephone messages left for Indiana Athletic Director Rick Greenspan and spokesman Pete Rhoda were not immediately returned.

Sampson leaves Oklahoma behind amid an investigation for possible recruiting violations. The NCAA is looking into more than 550 impermissible phone calls to recruits by Sampson and his assistant coaches, and Oklahoma officials are scheduled to appear before an NCAA panel in Utah on April 21.