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The state of Indiana's athletic program, Part 3

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

Is IU poised for a sports 'golden age?'

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 7:05 am

Links to the rest of this series: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.

BLOOMINGTON -- Fred Glass holds nothing back. Indiana's athletic director wants the Hoosiers to be a sports superpower, and that's true for all 22 sports.

He envisions a “golden age” where championships are as common as Assembly Hall sellouts.

How close is IU to achieving that? After the fall sports season the Hoosiers are tied with Alabama and North Dakota State for No. 1 in the men's Capital One Cup Standings, which rates the nation's top athletic departments based on on-field success.

Indiana won the national championship in soccer and finished 18th nationally in men's cross country. There is work to be done with volleyball finishing 11th in the Big Ten and football recording a losing record for the 12th time in 13 seasons in this decade.

There's plenty of winter and spring optimism with basketball aiming for Big Ten and national championships, men's track emerging as a consistent national power, and baseball hoping to use its new stadium as a springboard for postseason success.

Glass recently met with the News-Sentinel to discuss where the program is and where it's headed. This is the third in a four-part Q&A series.

HOW SPECIAL WAS IT TO GET THAT NATIONAL SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP?

It was awesome. Men's soccer is one of the things we're all about. This is the eighth national championship, our 25th overall. It's the first one since I've been here. That's very special. To brag a little bit, Todd Yeagley was the first guy I hired. There was some controversy about me firing his predecessor (Mike Freitag) and bringing in Todd. He was Big Ten coach of the year his first year. He was national coach of the year, this year. We won our eighth star. I think that's turned out really well. It's helped to give us momentum as we go into the balance of this year.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT FACES?

We're not lacking challenges. We're in a highly resourced conference. Indiana has the most under-funded athletic budget of all the public universities in the Big Ten. I'm not singing the blues too much about that. We can be successful. We have been successful. We've got to be more nimble. We have to be a little PT boat blasting people and moving around. Use that as an advantage for being nimble. The things we do at Indiana are fairly unique in our conference.

The general economic environment is a challenge for us. We're very reactive to the public. We sell tickets. We sell sponsorships. We raise money. What's going on in the general economy impacts us, in some ways more significantly than the university as a whole.

There are dynamic and fluid conference realignment and governance issues. The NCAA is revisiting how it wants to approach all the regulatory things. That's challenging for us because they're sort of moving the goal posts. The rules are changing right under our feet, but we're expected to be on top of that, which we are. That's challenging. Scholarship costs escalate, particularly for out of state students. A lot of our scholarships go to out-of-state students.

The athletic department pays all of that. Sometimes it's a little known fact that we get no university subsidy. We get no taxpayer money. We get no student fees. We raise that money ourselves and it primarily goes to paying scholarships, so those bills are increasing.

So, a variety of economic challenges to maintain our department on a strong financial ground are probably our biggest challenge.

HOW MUCH DOES MONEY FROM THE BIG TEN NETWORK HELP LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD WITH THE OHIO STATES, MICHIGAN STATES AND OTHER CONFERENCE HEAVYWEIGHTS?

It's almost impossible to overstate the value of the Big Ten Network to the conference generally and the Indianas of the world in particular. We share that in equal hunks. Of the $28 million we get from the conference, probably $17 million is from the Big Ten Network. It's the same amount Ohio State gets, but it feels a lot more on my $67 million budget than on Ohio State's $150 million budget. It's fair to say it's more impactful to those of us who have smaller budgets. It helps us be competitive.

And a little bit like pro football, that's the genius of the conference, so that the Illinoises and Iowas and Indianas and Purdues have the financial wherewithal to compete and make it a strong conference top to bottom, which makes it more interesting for all the fans.

HOW MUCH MORE WILL THE BIG TEN NETWORK PAYOUT BE WITH THE ADDITION OF MARYLAND AND RUTGERS?

I expect we'll go up as we add those markets. Then there will be a global renegotiation of all media rights with the Big Ten probably in 2017. Given what the market place is doing, my expectations will be those revenues will continue to rise.

WHEN YOU HIRE A COACH, IS FUND RAISING ABILITY PART OF WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

I don't take into account fundraising, per se. I do think their ability to be the CEO of their programs, to promote their programs, to represent the university well, is important. It's some of the same attributes that make a good fundraiser, but we don't look for that. We don't expect our coaches to be particularly active in fundraising.

INDIANA HAS TWO SPORTS THAT MAKE MONEY -- FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL. ARE THERE ANY OTHER SPORTS THAT COULD MAKE MONEY? DOES SOCCER, WHICH DRAWS WELL AND IS COMING OFF A NATIONAL TITLE, HAVE THAT POTENTIAL?

The other sports don't even move the needle on revenues. Generally that's true at most schools. Most schools make most of their money in football, some in basketball. We invert that a little bit. We make more money from basketball than football. We have an opportunity to make more money in football. We're working on that.

Other schools make a lot on hockey. Wisconsin does. I think until recently Michigan State made more money on hockey than basketball.

We have an opportunity to make a little more in men's soccer. Maybe a little more in women's basketball. Maybe a little more in baseball with the new stadium. It would not be significant. It would maybe help us defray some costs, but it would not be a huge revenue generator. They would not pay for themselves.

ONCE THE BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL STADIUMS ARE DONE (PROJECTED FOR THIS SPRING), ARE THERE ANY OTHER FACILITY PROJECTS IN THE WORKS?

I would be derelict in my duties if I wasn't constantly looking at what's next. We'll be throwing the first pitch in baseball and softball in the next couple of months, so I'm already thinking about what's the next fairly big thing and how do we pay for that?

We've got lots of needs. I don't know what that package will look like. It will almost certainly include investments in our men's and women's basketball programs, and continued investments in football. We have other needs throughout the department, so it's probably premature to announce that. We'll continue to look at major capital facility improvements.

WILL THERE BE A NEED FOR A NEW FACILITY FOR WRESTLING AND VOLLEYBALL?

I think that's pretty high up on the list. University Gym hosts our wrestling and volleyball programs. While I don't think there's anything imminent, I think that space will eventually be taken over by the Technology Park. I keep trying to figure out a way to characterize our wrestling and volleyball as innovative technology to justify our continuing presence there, but I don't think that's going to work.

Eventually we'll need a new venue for wrestling and volleyball. That's probably likely to be part of any major new capital campaign.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KEEP THAT FACILITY IN THE SPORTS COMPLEX AREA?

I would. More importantly, I think the master planners that the university has endorsed would like to keep things on the athletic campus. Bringing softball and baseball was a step in that direction, and if we move forward with a new volleyball-wrestling facility, I'm confident it would be on the athletics campus.

SO WHERE DOES INDIANA GO FROM HERE?

I really think we're going in the right direction. That's easy for me to say as the Hoosier athletic director. Nine of our sports finished in the top 15 last year. The year before I got here it was two. It's gone steadily up. We had 62 All-Americans last year. The year before I got here it was 48. We had four Big Ten players of the year last year, the most in the conference.

We had seven Olympians, and two of them medaled. That continued our streak of having a Hoosier medal in every Olympics since 1932, which is fairly extraordinary.

Everybody knows about men's basketball, but track and field was the (Big Ten) men's indoor champion last year. Men's soccer last year made the sweet 16 for the second straight year. Men's tennis and water polo last year had the most wins in school history. Rowing was nationally ranked for the first time in school history. Softball had back to back 30-win seasons for the first time and we continue to smack Purdue year in and year out in the Crimson Cup, which is important to me.

This year between men's soccer and the success of the other fall teams, believe it or not, Indiana is ranked No. 1 in the Capital One Collegiate Cup. That's one of the measurements of sports across the country. Indiana is No. 1. We're tied with Alabama. We've got basketball in our back pocket. Prospects are pretty good in baseball. We can stay up there. That's fairly extraordinary. We continue to kill Purdue in the Crimson Cup this year.

Across the board I really think we're heading toward that golden age. That's the elusive thing I'm chasing.

ARE YOU ALREADY IN A GOLDEN AGE?

I don't think we're there. I think we're getting there. When I was a student here, we were in a golden age and we didn't know it. I graduated in 1981. Bob Knight was the basketball coach. Sam Bell was the track coach. Hobie Billingsley was the diving coach. Doc Councilman was the swimming coach. Jerry Yeagley was the soccer coach. (All those coaches are in their sports hall of fames)

That's crazy. I hope that in 20 years people will look back and think, can you believe they had Wilson and Crean and Smith and Helmer and Dunbar and Gardner and Loring and Yeagley -- this is a great group of coaches. That's what gets me juiced up every day.

(FYI: Kevin Wilson coaches football; Tom Crean coaches basketball; Tracy Smith coaches baseball; Ron Helmer coaches track and cross country; Michelle Gardner coaches softball; Sherry Dunbar coaches volleyball; Lin Loring coaches women's tennis)

YOU MUST BELIEVE YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO PRODUCE A GOLDEN AGE

I do. We have to be creative. One of the things I'm really proud of is we are one of only nine schools in the country that operates in the black without any subsidy from the taxpayers or the university or from a student fee. Other schools like Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State -- these are gigantic football factories. We have this little 52,929-seat stadium that we're not filling. Figuring out how to get the resources in place to get high quality coaches and facilities, and stay within our means, that's significant.