It was the longest and most frustrating year of Dan Dakich's life, a fairy tale turned nightmare for the Andrean grad and former Indiana University basketball star.
The Hoosiers' tumultuous 2007-08 season saw assistants Rob Senderoff, Jeff Meyer and head coach Kelvin Sampson all implicated in NCAA recruiting violations, leaving Dakich -- who during one stretch held the positions of director of basketball operations, assistant coach, and then interim head coach -- to ride out the storm.
The university gave Dakich a $185,000 buyout to cover what he was scheduled to earn next school year.
At the opening of his 22nd annual Andrean basketball camp on Monday, Dakich sat down with The Times to "clear the air" regarding several rumors still circulating after the IU scandal.
Was the door left open for you to return in another capacity?
It wasn't even discussed. The deal on my contract was it was going to be a non-sales position (if I returned). I wasn't going to go down and work in the ticket office or anything like that. (Athletic director) Rick Greenspan knows that I like to coach. It wasn't a matter of a door not being left open or being open.
It's been rumored there was a drug problem on the team.
I'm not going into that.
The Hoosiers finished 3-4 with you at the helm, leading many to believe the team quit on you.
We were 3-1 and then a lot of things started happening, internally, that I'm not about to go into. Truth of the matter is, it got easy for people to say the players quit on Dakich, they quit on Indiana. But Eric Gordon went 7-for-50. That ain't quittin'. That's just missin'. Guys didn't make shots they had made earlier in the year. This team lived on the edge -- with Gordon making shots. This whole notion of the players revolting or being against me ... the players were against losing Coach Sampson. I'm not going to say they weren't (ticked) off at the administration, at the school. The players didn't understand why phone calls were such a big deal when some of them had been called numerous times by other schools.
Many alumni believe you blew the whistle on Sampson while serving as director of basketball operations until Feb. 22, when you were named interim head coach.
No I didn't. Jerry Green had just come out as the basketball operations guy. I wasn't interviewed by the NCAA. Jerry Green talked to the NCAA and told them things. I wasn't even there. Coach Sampson, when he got the letter from the NCAA, talked to the entire team. Senderoff, when he quit, went through the whole deal with the team, explaining what had happened. Two guys on the team talked to the NCAA because they were involved in receiving (illegal) phone calls. There's a hearing June 14. I ain't going. I ain't invited. I ain't supposed to go. You can read the 200 or so pages and you ain't never going to see my name. (Former assistants) Ray McCallum, Jeff Meyer, Senderoff and Sampson knew way more than I knew because they were in all the meetings and were very up front with the team as we went through the season. What was going to become public, they made sure the team knew first.
Following the season, you kicked sophomore Armon Bassett and junior Jamarcus Ellis off the team. The exodus of players continued when Tom Crean was hired as the new coach. Were these simply bad recruits?
When I took over the team, there was going to be accountability for class attendance, getting to practice on time, things of that nature. There were kids there that absolutely did not respect Indiana University and had no respect for the basketball program. My decision to dismiss two guys was really easy. Crean's decision to dismiss the rest of 'em was really easy. The only way that wasn't going to happen was if somebody came into Indiana University and didn't care about anything. I said that in my postgame after the (NCAA) Arkansas game: The culture needed to change and get back to being Indiana University basketball, which is on the level with North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA.