Former IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan Is in Deep Trouble – Again

by Kent Sterling

This is Rick Greenspan prior to being an accused xenophobe.

This is Rick Greenspan prior to being an accused xenophobe.

Oh boy.  There was never any doubt that former Indiana University Rick Greenspan is a self-immersed kook, but he has now been accused of being an unrepentant xenophobe – or a guy with a sense of humor on par with Archie Bunker.

Oregon will take the court in a couple of hours in downtown Indianapolis, and they have a power forward, Arsalan Kazemi, who filed a hardship waiver to transfer from Rice – the school where Greenspan fled after being sacked at Indiana.  That paperwork makes very specific allegations about repeated racist remarks by Greenspan to Kazemi, an Iranian.

In addition to Kazemi, Rice employed Marco Morcos, an assistant coach who is a native of Egypt, Omar Oraby – a center who also filed a hardship waiver and transferred to USC, and forward Ahmad Ibrahim – also of middle eastern descent.

Among the specific comments  by Greenspan alleged in the waiver request cited in a Sports Illustrated piece by Thayer Evans:

  • “All you need is a backpack and you are ready to bomb the school.” (to Morcos)
  • “Recruit more terrorists”
  • Greenspan asked if they were having an “Al-Qaeda meeting,” when talking in Arabic to another player.
  • “Stop speaking in this language because you could be plotting against us.”
  • “We only need one more guy to complete the Axis of Evil.”

As you might expect, Greenspan denies everything.

What can’t be denied is that the waiver was granted, and that if true, Greenspan continues to act like the tool who proudly welcomed Kelvin Sampson to Indiana University, where he took a wrecking ball to the program with his unquenchable need to win at all costs.  His lack of ability in gauging the character of recruits and amoral hubris in luring them to play for the Hoosiers brought disgrace to a proud tradition of doing things the right way at Indiana and resulted in unprecedented NCAA penalties and shame to all connected with the program and university.

There are those who claim the man who served as IU president at the time of Sampson’s hiring, Adam Herbert, made the call over the objections of Greenspan, but I heard the news of the hire from one of Sampson’s lieutenants before the announcement, and he was exceptionally proud that he and Greenspan “Got our man.”  Those might have been the words he used rather than give an unnecessarily detailed accounting of the machinations of the hire, but the glee with which he told me was overt.  If he could have made confetti fall from the ceiling as he said the name “Kelvin Sampson”, he would have.

Greenspan got buildings built, including Cook Hall, in Bloomington, but the body of his idiocy at Army, Indiana, and now Rice has too much bulk to be outweighed by occasional effective leadership.

Over time in a public role, flaws are revealed.  Whether Greenspan’s alleged comments were made out of an irrational fear of people of Middle Eastern lineage, an oddly inaccurate desire to engage and amuse, callous indifference to those he oversaw, or a combustable combination of the three, this guy’s trail of bumbletude has exploded far beyond most men’s ability to maintain or find continued employment in a position as visible as athletic director of an NCAA Division I university.

For more on Greenspan, here’s an oldie but goodie about John Feinstein’s loathing of Greenspan.

2 thoughts on “Former IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan Is in Deep Trouble – Again

  1. Charlie

    I agree that Greenspan is a jackass, but the simple fact is that two trustees of IU effectively pursued Sampson without input from athletics, the faculty committee that oversees athletics, or from the President’s office.

    Herbert was called by said trustees who told him to clear his schedule for a day and accompany them to Oklahoma where they were meeting Sampson. The following week Sampson was introduced as coach. No athletics, faculty, or student involvement in the search. No search committee, no search consultants, and no other candidates.

    I know this from a faculty member who was on said oversight committee, two staff members from the President’s office, and a friend who works for one of the two trustees referenced above.

    Greenspan is a jerk. Herbert wasn’t much better. But the Sampson hire wad a product of that all-too-familiar Hoosier phenomena of basketball fans thinking they know more about the game, about college athletics, and coaching than anyone else. Well, anyone other than the General.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I’ve heard rumors of the wackiness of that search and the extent to which Greenspan was absent from it, but I can tell you that Greenspan and his lieutenants were very pleased by the result – or they were Oscar caliber actors in a meeting I had the day the announcement was made.

      I’m no fan of search committees, and even less of search consultants. The AD’s job is to be constantly vigilant in seeking out great coaching talent so that when an opening occurs, hiring is a matter of negotiating the deal with the right coach – not beating the bushes to find him/her.


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