Parting ways with a college coach accused of violating National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules has become a delicate process. On February 8th, the NCAA notified Indiana University that its men's basketball coach, Kelvin Sampson, had allegedly committed five "major" NCAA rule violations. After more than a week of speculation surrounding Sampson's future at Indiana, the school negotiated a settlement to terminate its relationship with the second-year coach. In exchange for a $750,000 buyout, Sampson resigned and agreed not to pursue any legal action against the university.
On its face, the buyout seems generous for a coach who conceivably could have been fired outright for cause. Sampson, who was already under NCAA sanction for prior infractions, had a clause in his contract that allowed Indiana to terminate him for "significant or repetitive violations." Nevertheless, Indiana was in a difficult position. Firing Sampson prior to NCAA hearings on the alleged violations would have likely spurred a wrongful termination suit in which Sampson could potentially recover the remaining $2.5 million on his contract. Allowing the embattled coach to remain a Hoosier until the NCAA's final determination in July would prolong the program's instability as the NCAA tournament and recruiting season approach. Faced with this dilemma, Indiana decided it was well worth the buyout to get Sampson out the door immediately. [More]