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Last updated: Thu. Nov. 08, 2012 - 01:28 am EDT

Indiana players' suspensions shock Crean

Coach says they didn't do anything wrong

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BLOOMINGTON –- Tom Crean is ticked. Well, he says he's shocked, which is a nice way of saying he's ticked.

The Indiana coach gets the secondary NCAA violation regarding A-HOPE Foundation founder Mark Adams that resulted in improper benefits to former player Tijan Jobe and freshmen forwards Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin.

Adams, a 1980 Indiana grad, contributed $185 to the IU Varsity Club from 1986-92. Specifically, his ex-wife wrote the checks so she could get a bumper sticker each year for her car.

The NCAA ruled that meant Adams was a booster for life, which meant he couldn't give any benefits to anybody IU was recruiting. Adams' A-HOPE Foundation paid expenses for Perea, Jurkin and Jobe, along with all the other foreign student athletes the organization has helped bring to America over the years. The NCAA ruled those were improper benefits to the three Hoosier players because of Adams' booster status.

Crean is in agreement with the $5,000 fine the Hoosiers had to pay for using Jobe, who was an ineligible player, and with Adams not being allowed to have any contact with the coaching staff for a year.

What gets Crean going are the nine-game suspensions handed down to Perea and Jurkin. In his view, they did nothing wrong. They weren't even born when Adams last made a payment to the Varsity Club.

“We were shocked at that," Crean said during Wednesday's Dan Dakich radio show on Indianapolis' 1070 The Fan. "There's no way around that. That hadn't followed any precedent that we'd ever seen, that had been read about or reported or even listed in any documentation."

Crean said he's not sure what to tell Perea and Jurkin.

"We've really haven't done a very good job of it because, what do you tell them? You tell them where it's at. You tell them what they found. We did let them read all the different reports, but again, it's hard to really follow it. You have to really dive into it.

"They've done nothing wrong, and we tell them don't look at it that way. They've done everything they could do since being in this country to handle it the right way, to be eligible, the academics, all those things. It's hard.

"It's a painful experience for anybody involved when you can't give people concrete answers where things are."

IU is appealing the length of the suspensions. Assuming nothing changes, they will be eligible starting with the Dec. 15 game against Butler at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The top-ranked Hoosiers open their season Friday night against Bryant, which went 2-28 last season, and is projected to finish near the bottom of the Northeast Conference.

Without Perea and Jurkin, plus the loss of senior forward Derek Elston for the next month or so because of knee surgery, IU's frontcourt depth will be thin for a while.

Crean isn't worried about that. He sees a pair of players who have done all the right things, but who have been under a harsh spotlight since a May of 2011 ESPN story suggested A-HOPE was IU recruiting pipeline.

“Peter and Hanner have been model citizens in everything, whether it's academics, work ethic, how they treat people, everything,” Crean said on the Dakich show. “All the way, they've had to deal with this. They've had to deal with all the questions and different innuendos and different hypotheticals. It's not like it just kind of snuck up. They've had to handle it all, and they've handled it very forthright.

“When you can't tell them why this is happening because you don't know yourself when it comes to any type of thing you can look back at and say, 'Hey, yeah, this happened here' or 'This happened there and this is why this is happening to us.'

“We don't have that. If we did, it would be a lot easier. We don't have anything like that. That's what is so bothersome."

pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com


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