(EDITOR'S NOTE: This the first of four stories on the athletic departments at the four local BCS athletic programs – Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky. Rick Bozich interviewed the athletic directors at all four schools – Tom Jurich of Louisville, Mitch Barnhart of Kentucky, Fred Glass of Indiana and Todd Stewart of WKU – about the challenges each faced when they started in their jobs as well as their visions and goals. The stories will run Sunday-through-Wednesday on the WDRB News at 10 as well as here at WDRB.com, starting with Glass and IU.)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – Renovate Assembly Hall or tear it down and build a new basketball arena?
Will Indiana University football ever compete for a football championship in the Big Ten or even consistently play in mid-level bowl games?
What are the possibilities of starting a basketball series with Louisville or resuming the one that has disappeared with Kentucky?
Those are only a few of the questions percolating on the To-Do List of Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass. But those are not the questions that Glass faced when he left his legal practice in Indianapolis and moved into the IU athletic job nearly five years ago.
The initial questions were considerably more daunting, even for Glass, who has a pair of degrees from IU:
What could Glass do to bring IU back from the NCAA probation that toppled the basketball program? How could he convince fans they no longer had reason to be embarrassed to wear their IU gear?
Over the last five seasons, the trend line at Indiana has moved in a favorable direction. A Big Ten regular-season championship in men's basketball directed by Tom Crean, who recruited Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and a string of other top players and students to his program.
Glass has a sign hanging in his office that he was given by a fan in Assembly Hall that describes Crean's work rebuilding the program from probation as the "greatest story ever told." Glass is quick to tell you that he didn't hire Crean from Marquette, but he certainly would have and was eager to add three more years to his contract.
Move on to school's first appearance in the College Baseball World Series. A national championship in men's soccer in 2012, the eighth title won by the school's storied program. Conference championships in women's soccer and men's cross country. A return to the national top 10 in men's and women's swimming.
Football remains a work in progress – a Rubik's Cube that Glass is determined to solve. He hired Kevin Wilson and remains convinced he'll win at IU, even though the Hoosiers (4-6) still have the worst defense in the Big Ten are unlikely to make a bowl game.
"I think behind the curtain, Hoosier Nation can feel that we're top quality, which I don't think we were five years ago," Glass said.
You can watch the interview in the video here at WDRB.com, Glass discusses the future of Assembly Hall, his plan for continuing to upgrade the football program, his thoughts on the value of aggressive leadership and other topics.
Among the highlights:
*Glass prefers renovating Assembly Hall to building a new basketball arena, a project that he says would cost more than $300 million. He said the department could raise the money, but all other capital projects would have to be placed on hold. Glass plans to make an announcement about Assembly Hall soon.
"I think starting over with Assembly Hall would be giving up a competitive advantage that we have right now," Glass said. "I think the best thing to do is preserve it and enhance it."
*Glass said he has been a fan of Crean from the coach's time at Marquette and that IU should have hired Crean instead of Kelvin Sampson to replace Mike Davis in 2006. Glass watched Marquette basketball closely because one of his sons was a student at the school in Milwaukee. *Glass said upgrading the football program is essential to improving the national profile of Indiana athletics. He's increased the revenue invested in the football program, but understands that more investments are needed.
"Football disproportionately represents your university, fairly or unfairly," Glass said. "People tend to think of the quality of your university in context with the quality of your football program. We have an excellent university, world-class. Our football program hasn't been that. But I don't think there is any reason Indiana can't be a quality football school."
*Glass said that IU is still playing catch-up with other Big Ten schools in football, but that the two most important factors in building the program are continuity with a single coach and investing more resources in the program.
"We haven't invested in football at Indiana," Glass said. "My guess is that the average tenure of an IU football coach since Bill Mallory (who was fired about 20 years ago) left is probably 2 ½-to-3 years. "
Stay with us. Stay with us, we're going to keep pounding the rock."
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