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The state of Indiana's athletic program, Part 1

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For more on Indiana athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Resurgent basketball 'thrills' athletic director

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 2:31 am

Links to the rest of this series: Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

BLOOMINGTON -- Fred Glass wears sweat shirts, shorts and Indiana ball caps to the office.

Is that wrong?

More to the point in this bottom-line college sports world -- has it ever been more right?

Indiana's athletic director directs a $67 million budget, 22 sports and hundreds of student athletes, and things are happening. And if casual attire helps make it happen, all the better.

The Hoosiers are tied with Alabama and -- this is not a typo -- North Dakota State atop the Capital One Cup standings. This takes into account NCAA championship results and IU's ranking was boosted by the soccer team's eighth national title in December.

The Hoosiers' have a top-10 basketball team with national title aspirations. Last year they had 62 All-Americans and a conference-leading four Big Ten players of the year. Nine sports finished in the top-15 nationally. Seven Hoosiers participated in the summer Olympics in London and two -- high jumper Derek Drouin and swimmer Margaux Farrell -- won bronze medals. That means at least one Hoosier has won a medal in every Olympics since 1932.

Glass's oft-stated goal since taking over in January of 2009 is to return the program to the golden age it had during the 1970s and '80s when teams were winning national championships and, yes, even bowl games.

Glass, a 1981 IU grad, recently met with the News-Sentinel at his spacious Memorial Stadium office to discuss where the program is and where it's headed. This is the first in a Q&A series.

ASSESS THE OVERALL STATE OF THE ATHLETIC PROGRAM

I'm thrilled about where we are. When I came to Indiana, I told the president that I could do a pretty good job of keeping the pots from boiling over, but it needed to be more for me. I wanted to pursue excellence. He was awesome. He absolutely agreed and endorsed that. I think we're making a lot of progress.

Our goal is to enter into a new golden age of Indiana University athletics. Slowly but surely we're putting ourselves into position to be at the front end of that.

HOW SATISFYING IS IT TO SEE WHERE THE BASKETBALL PROGRAM IS CONSIDERING WHERE IT WAS AFTER THE KELVIN SAMPSON FIASCO?

I was born and raised on Indiana basketball. Just as a fan, it's exciting, but then to be here with a ringside seat to it all, it's impossible to overstate how emotionally positive it is.

Over on the wall here I have picture of a kid with a sign I actually framed that said “Return of Indiana Basketball Will be the Greatest Story Ever Told.” I pulled our photographer out and asked him to take a picture of that kid with that sign. I framed it and put it in my office. I framed it and gave it to Tom and it's in his office.

I do believe the return of Indiana basketball will be the greatest story ever told. To go from where we were, through nobody's fault who is sitting here now, and for (coach) Tom Crean to not get what he was told he was getting at the recruiting station, fight through that, build this program back almost single handedly with the wind of Indiana tradition at his back, with his vision and determination, and then to beat Kentucky on that shot…

Everything changed on that shot. And now to be bouncing around No. 1 and No. 2 in the rankings (IU is currently No. 7), is extraordinary. It will be the centerpiece of what I think will be a golden age of Indiana athletics.

YOU SEEM TO BE VERY PROACTIVE WHEN THERE ARE ISSUES IN THE PROGRAM, SPECIFICALLY THE ONES SURROUNDING FRESHMAN FORWARD JEREMY HOLLOWELL (IU KEPT HIM OUT A FEW GAMES BECAUSE OF CONCERNS OVER A SELF REPORTED SECONDARY VIOLATION FOR IMPROPER CONTACT). IS THAT SOMETHING YOU EMPHASIZE -- GET IN CONTROL OF SITUATIONS INSTEAD OF LETTING SITUATIONS CONTROL YOU?

I can't comment on any particular student situation. We have four priorities and No. 1 is play by the rules. We don't screw around with that. We have a compliance staff to make sure we're doing that. We have regular monthly mandatory meetings with all of our coaches. These are all new things. I meet every week with the senior compliance administrators to stay on top of everything so suddenly I don't find out something eight weeks later after decisions have been made at a lower level.

We've had outside auditors come in. Inside auditors come in. Our budget has gone up significantly in that area. You can't mouth the words and not put your money where your mouth is. We are proactive. My guess is we might take things more seriously than some other programs. That's the side you need to error on.

Getting out in front of things and addressing them early and hopefully dealing with them thoroughly and transparently. I told the president when he hired me I would do everything I could to prevent compliance issues from happening with some of the investments I just talked about. They're going to happen anyway. It's the nature of the beast. I couldn't promise him, I can't promise fans, we won't have those issues. We will. What I do promise is we will handle them professionally, transparently, quickly and in a way that will hopefully reflect favorably on us by those who rate us. So far that's been the case.

There are a lot of federal laws that protect the privacy of student athletes and limit your ability to comment. And yet, the public is interested, and without information sometimes people are led to scenarios worse than what the facts are. We've tried to be transparent. We're a public university, fairly responsive, accessible. We can't always talk about everything.

I HAVE ASKED A NUMBER OF IU ATHLETIC DIRECTORS THIS QUESTION OVER THE YEARS. WHEN WILL THE TIME COME TO REPLACE ASSEMBLY HALL? IS THAT BEING PLANNED?

My hope is you'll still be able to ask the next athletic director that question. I think Cook Hall gave us the flexibility to extend the life of Assembly Hall. Cook Hall has all the bells and whistles and eye candy and modern amenities coaches and student athletes are looking for. It's fabulous.

At this point, Assembly Hall is a venerable old arena. When TV comes on, you don't know if you're at Wisconsin or Penn State or Ohio State. But you know if you're at Assembly Hall. That's a cool thing. When you're the other team, and those kids are up in there, you feel like you're General Custer and the place if full of Indians. That's awesome. The place rocks like crazy. It's tight to the action. I think it's a huge advantage. It has its challenges. We just put another roof on it. We have some issues, but Assembly Hall in combination with Cook Hall works.

I think it's every bit of $250 million to build a new arena. Everything stops if you get into a campaign like that, even if you could raise the money, which would be extremely challenging. I think it's desirable to keep Assembly Hall in combination with Cook Hall.

You never say never, but it's not a priority for me.

WILL YOU GET KENTUCKY BACK ON THE SCHEDULE? TO BE SPECIFIC, WHEN YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO PLAY KENTUCKY AT LUCAS OIL STADIUM, LOUISVILLE HOME AND HOME OR CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE AT HOME, WHY CHOOSE CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE?

I love playing Kentucky. I grew up on the Kentucky rivalry. Nobody wants to play Kentucky more than I do. That first Saturday in December is just a magical thing. You can feel the heat in the gym.

My view, rightly or wrongly, and reasonable people can disagree with this, is that this is college basketball and we should play the Indiana-Kentucky game at least once during a normal four-year tenure of a student at home. It ought to be at Rupp Arena, too.

I'm not against playing at a neutral venue. Lucas Oil Stadium is great. It's a huge crowd. It's awesome. I'm all for that. Different people get a chance to see that. It's great. But it has to be part of a package where our students get to see it, too.

After (last year's) IU-Kentucky game (IU won 73-72 on Christian Watford's buzzer-beater), I can't tell you how many students came to me and said, 'Mr. Glass, I came to IU in part because of the great basketball tradition. It wasn't great for three years, but I was at that game and it made up for everything'. Kids charged the court. They were going insane. It was unbelievable.

I feel like I'd be selling them out if I agreed to cut out the campus part of that package because Kentucky feels like it has some sort of new model. They can have a new model if they want. I don't have to feed into it if it's against what we feel is important.

I hope the series gets restarted, but for me, a component needs to be that we also play in a four-year cycle in Lexington and Bloomington.

ARE THERE ANY CONVERSATIONS TO RESTART THE SERIES?

There are no negotiations now. We sort of capped it off with them and they know where we stand and we know where they stand. Originally, our stand was let's have all the games on campus. In a perfect world it should all be on campus. In an attempt to save the series, we proposed, in a four-year cycle -- two on a neutral court, two on campus. I even offered to put Bloomington at the end of that cycle. It seemed fair to go back to Rupp first. We thought that was a reasonable compromise. They didn't want any part of that.

They know where we are. If they evolve in their thinking, we can restart the series.

IF THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN, WOULD YOU WANT TO GET ANOTHER MARQUEE OPPONENT ON THE NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE, SUCH AS A LOUISVILLE OR A KANSAS?

I think we'd have to. The nature of basketball scheduling is such there are a lot of teams we play our fans wouldn't necessarily want to see. It seems to me to be reasonable that at least one non-conference home opponent come as a marquee program. I'd love to play Louisville home and away. We tried to work that out, but we had some logistical issues. I have great respect for their administration and coaches.

Other marquee teams, like a Kansas, a UCLA, or a Georgetown, are possible. Those are the teams our fans would want to see.