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Dan Dakich Peels Back Curtain on Craziness During Kelvin Sampson, Rob Senderoff Era

By Tom Brew,

2023-03-14

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Former Indiana player and coach Dan Dakich was back at Indiana at the end of the Kelvin Sampson-Rob Senderoff era and he saw first-hand all the cheating that went on before they were both fired. Fast forward 15 years later, and now Senderoff and Sampson are coach in Indiana's bracket of the Midwest Region. Dakich went off on them both during his ''Don't @ Me'' talk show on Monday.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — One of the biggest mistakes in Indiana basketball history was the hiring of Kelvin Sampson as head coach. He was cheating at Oklahoma and already on NCAA probation when Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan thought it was a good idea to put him in charge of the one of the most pristine — and most successful — programs in the country.

It ended badly less than two years later. First, Indiana assistant coach Rob Senderoff was fired for cheating and before the 2008 season ended, Sampson was fired, too.

Fast forward to 2023 and the NCAA Tournament draw. Senderoff, who's the coach at Kent State now, is Indiana's first-round opponent. Sampson's Houston team is the No. 1 seed in the same bracket, a potential opponent in next week's regional semifinal in Kansas City.

Senderoff and Sampson were both shut down by the NCAA and given show-cause sanctions before they could coach again. Sampson had to wait five years, though his ''punishment'' was cashing several million dollars in checks as an NBA assistant.

Senderoff landed at Kent State, and eventually became their head coach. He's been there 12 years.

Dan Dakich, who was a late hire to Sampson's staff and had to clean up their mess at the end of the year, ripped in to both Senderoff and Sampson during his ''Don't @ Me'' sports talk show on the Outkick.com network.

Dakich knows, because he was there. And these were bad dudes dead set on destroying the reputation of a one-great program that Dakich played for and coached at for 16 years alonside Bob Knight.

Dakich ripped away, and it was pure gold.

"I took the coach at Kent State's job, Rob Senderoff. Rob Senderoff was cheating his brains out for Kelvin Sampson at Indiana and Kelvin is pretty smart. He got rid of Senderoff, but took care of him,'' Dakich said. "Kelvin Sampson owed me five grand for camp and never paid it because that's Kelvin Sampson. He's a rat, he's a fink, he's ridiculous, he's awful.

"He slips me a camp check and says 'give it to Senderoff, would ya?' So Senderoff gets fired in the middle of the 2008 season, and then because cheating pays, he ends of getting a job at Kent State becuse he has buddies there. He went back to Kent State and got a job because he's  a scheming little guy.''

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Kelvin Sampson on the sidelines during his last game as Indiana's head coach in February of 2008. (USA TODAY Sports)

Sampson, Senderoff and fellow assistant Ray McCallum were all fired for making impermissable phone calls to recruits among other things. There were also many drug problems on that team — all public record these days — and academic issues as well.

Some Indiana fans defend Sampson because those type of phone calls are now legal, but that's not the point. Sampson had turned Indiana into a renegade program and deserved to be fired. He should have never been hired in the first place, and Indiana had to pay for it for years.

"Senderoff was a little cheat, and he wasn't even any good at it,'' Dakich said. "He got caught easy when he was at Indiana. It pays to cheat. Look at Kelvin Sampson. Nobody’s cheating more than Kelvin Sampson. And if anybody thinks it was just phone calls, I've got two words for you: My Backside.''

Dakich told a hilarious story about how off the rails Indiana's recruiting was under Sampson. He shared the tale of Bud Mackey, a star player from Kentucky that Senderoff loved — and sold to Sampson.

"Indiana fans, if you want to get under Senderoff's skin, cheer Bud Mackey,'' Dakich said. "Bud Mackey was a player from Kentucky that he sold Sampson on but never got to play. Why? Armed robbery, drugs, you name it. Multiple charges.

"So we find out that Bud Mackey has been arrested and I'm sitting in my office, and I'm just laughing. I'm watching Senderoff, and Ray McCallum and Kelvin Sampson, it's like the Keystone Cops of idiots. We find out that Bud Mackey has been arrested and my man Senderoff is balling in my office. Literally crying his eyes out.''

Dakich said Sampson and his crew never embraced the Indiana history and all the greatness that preceded them.

"You've got to understand that when I came to Indiana after 16 years at Indiana with Bob Knight, this little weasel Senderoff tells me 'this is as new Indiana. There's a new sheriff in town,’ “Dakich said. ''I said, ah, man, you guys are great. You're all awesome.' About a month later, I find out that Senderoff and McCallumn and Sampson are all cheating like crazy.''

Dakich said that Senderoff ''has done a good job and Kent State, and has a good team,'' but he also interjected that he ''probably still gets his players the same way Kelvin Sampson does, by cheating.''

He doesn't want to see Senderoff having any success, especially at Indiana's expense in Friday night's game.

"Indiana cannot lose this game. If they lose, my head might blow up on Monday I'll be so angry,'' Dakich said. "You can't lose to little Robbie Senderoff. He had no idea how to coach nothing. He was coaching the bigs, and that's what I did after he was fired. We had D.J. White. I said 'D.J., you need to get a jump hook.' Senderoff never did that. He's a whiner, he's a baby.''

Watch the full Dan Dakich 'Don't @ Me' show

Here's the link to Dan Dakich's two-hour daily show. His Senderoff rant is early in the show, at about the five-minute mark. There's more at about 23 minutes. There's also 30 great minutes with former Indiana assistant Dane Fife as they break down the Midwest Region that includes Indiana, Kent State and Houston, among others.

Dakich is breaking down a different region every day on his show. Tuesday's episode focuses on the South Region. His show is live from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET every day, and can be restreamed at any time on YouTube and Twitter.

Related stories on Indiana basketball

  • TOM BREW COLUMN: Outside of very late nights in Albany, New York, of all places, there's a lot to like about Indiana's draw in the 2023 NCAA basketball tournament. They got the best seed possible, and a potential long run in the tournament seems very realistic. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA GETS KENT STATE: After a 22-11 season in year two under coach Mike Woodson, Indiana received a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers play No. 13 seed Kent State in the Round of 64. CLICK HERE
  • SENIOR. GUARDS LEAD KENT STATE: No. 4 seed Indiana plays No. 13 seed Kent State in the Round of 64 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 9:55 p.m. ET. The Golden Flashes are led by a pair of senior guards and coached by former Indiana assistant coach Rob Senderoff. CLICK HERE
  • NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: The 2023 NCAA Tournament appears to be wide open this season. The field of 68 will be announced on Sunday night. Here's everything you need to know about the field so far, and locations for all games played between March 14 and April 3, when a champion will be decided in Houston, Texas. CLICK HERE
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