BLOOMINGTON — For Fred Glass, the shock of being named Indiana University's athletic director (“I never dreamed this would happen”) mixed with the uncertainty of possible basketball sanctions leaves one big opening objective:
NCAA compliance is Priority No. 1.
“That's the first base we'll touch,” Glass said. “We won't be scared of our own shadow. We'll recruit aggressively, but we will follow the rules.”
The 49-year-old Glass, a partner in the Indianapolis law firm of Baker & Daniels with two degrees from IU, arrives under the shadow of possible NCAA sanctions for alleged violations committed during former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson's two-year run. The Infractions Committee is expected to make a ruling within the next month.
Glass has no previous athletic-director experience, but he is the second Baker & Daniels attorney to become an athletic director. Jack Swarbrick left three months ago to run Notre Dame's athletic department.
“He has impeccable integrity and character,” former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson said. “He gets things done and gets them done the right way. It's a great message to the NCAA.”
Glass, who was officially announced as Rick Greenspan's replacement Tuesday morning, said he's ready for the challenge.
“I love big, tough jobs,” he said. “This will be the most exciting and important thing I will do in my professional career.
“We'll put together a vision for the department, with the understanding that IU will be known as a national leader with a reputation for compliance. We'll follow the rules; we'll have academic achievement and excellence in athletics. We have a lot to do, but we have great strengths and traditions to build on.”
Glass will make $410,000 a year (Greenspan never made more than $309,600) and is considered a regular employee, which means no contract. He starts Jan. 2.
Glass' background includes negotiating a 30-year deal to keep the Colts in Indianapolis, financing and building Lucas Oil Stadium, organizing the city's 2012 Super Bowl bid, and being on committees that helped bring NCAA Final Fours to Indianapolis in 2000 and 2006. He also worked for then-Gov. Evan Bayh in the early 1990s and with Peterson as president of Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board from 2000 to 2007.
Glass met with IU coaches before Tuesday's news conference.
“I'm really impressed, not only with his background but his passion for Indiana University,” football coach Bill Lynch said. “He's got great experience in leadership and management. You can tell he's excited to be here. That's important.”
Added basketball coach Tom Crean: “We need a partnership. I'm looking forward to it. He cares deeply about Indiana. He comes highly recommended. I'm excited about working with him.”
Glass is a lifelong Hoosier sports fan who, during youth pickup football games, imagined he was Jade Butcher, the record-breaking receiver for IU's 1968 Rose Bowl team, because “he had the greatest name on the team.” Glass said he skipped school in the spring of 1976 to greet the IU basketball team after it won the national title.
Glass remembered hitchhiking around Bloomington as an Indiana student in the late 1970s and getting picked up one day by athletic director Ralph Floyd.
“He said, ‘Son, I'll take you anywhere you want to go, but first we're going to the ticket office and you're going to buy a football season ticket,'” Glass said. “So I did.”
That ticket paid long-term dividends. Glass met his wife, Barbara, at a football game. He proposed to her after a football game.
“Not the same game,” he said. “I'm not that fast. A couple years separated them.”
Why would Glass leave a successful law practice and community involvement to take the Hoosier job?
“It's a dream job for me,” he said. “IU is in my blood. I love it.”
IU officials first approached him. They were drawn, President Michael McRobbie said, by Glass' versatile background that seemed well-suited for 21st-century challenges.
“In all these undertakings,” McRobbie said, “Fred demonstrated a remarkable talent for leadership, for mastering the details of big challenges, for diplomacy and for consensus building. He has a well-earned reputation as someone who can get the big things done. He is exactly the person we need to take on the challenges our athletics department will encounter in the next decade.”
The search committee used former basketball coach and Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton as a consultant.
“Fred is a person who well understands the issues and challenges of leading and managing an intercollegiate athletics department,” Newton said.
Glass said he will spend the next two months closing out his law practice and meeting with Greenspan to smooth the transition.
“Rick is still the athletic director,” Glass said, “but we will collaborate on major decisions.
“There will be a learning curve, but I want to hit the ground running on Jan. 2.”
Glass will run well, Peterson said. “The long-term questions are who has the ability, judgment, creativity and energy to do the job. Fred brings that to the table. He's going to be a great athletic director.”