Indiana athletic director Fred Glass addressed the media after the official news conference for the announcement of a $40 million gift by Cindy Simon Skjodt to renovate Assembly Hall. The building will be renamed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall as early as 2016, when the rebuilding is expected to be completed.
Here are some of the highlights of what Glass had to say, in Q&A form.
Q: A few years back, the thinking was that Assembly Hall wouldn't be a part of IU's future going forward (that it would be replaced, not renovated). When did that philosophy change?
Glass: I really think the circumstances may have changed as much or more than the philosophy.
This was before my time, but the thinking was that given all the things that were desired at the time – new athletics offices, new practice gyms, a new venue and so forth – that it made the most sense economically to replace as opposed to refurbish.
When I got here, we sort of took a new look at that, looked at the data that had been generated by the design group that looked at that. We asked our new master planner for the university to take a look at all that, and candidly I had a bias going in toward refurbishment instead of replacement because I just think the venue is so cool.
Finances aside and the dramatic money we'd have to raise to get a new building aside, I really think the goal should be to keep the venue of Assembly Hall the same as it is now because it is so unique and it's such a huge home court advantage. With the advent of Cook Hall … as well as the North End Zone availability … that relieved a little bit of pressure on what a new building would have brought, say, 10 years ago.
Q: How important are the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) renovations to preserving the venue?
Glass: I'd like to spend all the money on all the fun stuff, but I seriously want this building to be here for another 42 years and stand the test of time for multiple generations of IU fans. We can't be irresponsible and restore this building without addressing those infrastructure needs, as well.
Q: What are your plans for the specific design and renovations as well as the Chasing Excellence campaign (which will try to raise $150 million for two other athletics capital projects)?
Glass: We haven't gotten into super detail on that. One of the great things about this gift is it triggers university protocol so that now that we've raised more than half – or in this case, all the money we need – for Assembly Hall, we can go to the design phase and get more of those details.
Everything to this point has been very preliminary, and one of the really, really, really great things about this gift is, all by itself it not only more than covers what we need for Assembly Hall, but it approaches half of what we need for the entire capital projects for the whole campaign. Once we get to that point, we get into the more specific design, approval and eventual financing plan.
Cindy's gift is strategically worth more than $40 million in terms of what we need to move forward with our pretty aggressive timetable. ... Our goal would be to do three major projects simultaneously and get them done.
Note: Glass said announcements of the other two projects are forthcoming. He could not divulge details at the time of the interview.
Quotes of note
Curt Miller, women's basketball coach, on his team's reaction to the news: They were surrounding me after a long practice this morning, and I said, 'If you have an opportunity to meet Cindy personally today, please thank her and her family for their generosity.' And I barely got to finish the sentence when one of our players said, 'A woman gave this money?'
To see that was simply amazing from our team and an inspiration not only to the women's basketball players, but to all women's athletic members here – coaches and players at Indiana. A lot of women's players come here not only to get better as an athlete, but they also dream of becoming an amazing professional after the ball stops bouncing or after they stop competing, and they dream of having an opportunity one day, like (Simon Skjodt), to give back.
Victor Oladipo, former IU All-American: My greatest memories on the basketball court took place at Assembly Hall. That building and our amazing fans have provided a tremendous home court advantage for everyone who has ever played at Indiana. I believe it is the most intimidating home environment in college basketball, and I cannot thank the Simon Skjodt family enough for their incredible generosity.
Their gift ensures that future generations of IU basketball players will get the same great experiences that I did playing in that building. I am so proud that the building I love will be named in their honor.
Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner: The renovation of Assembly Hall is a gift not only to Indiana University and Hoosier fans everywhere, but a gift to the Big Ten Conference and college basketball fans across the country as well. This incredibly gracious gift from the Simon Skjodt family will improve one of the most iconic venues in all of sports and provide a great enhancement to the student-athlete experience at Indiana.
Calbert Cheany, former IU All-American and director of basketball operations: Assembly Hall will always have a special place in my heart. I am so glad that it will always be there. Thank you so much to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family for their generous commitment to preserving the incredible history of IU basketball.
Don Fischer, IU radio network play-by-play: I attended the first game at Assembly Hall as a fan in 1971 and fell in love with the place immediately. Since that day, that building has provided more memories than I can possibly count. I am thrilled that the Simon Skjodt family has ensured that this special building will carry on and provide even more indelible memories for future generations of IU basketball fans. I think it is tremendous that this building will be named in their honor.
Simon Skjodt: I'm looking forward to seeing the newly refurbished Assembly Hall and sharing many, many more exciting moments to come with my family, dear friends, alums and the world of collegiate sports.
Glass: It's always a great day to be a Hoosier, but this is a particularly great day to be a Hoosier.
By the time Assembly Hall becomes Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, it will look vastly different. Check out the list of renovation plans below. The timeline for when renovations will take place and what else is to come in terms of design has yet to be determined.
- Additional bathroom facilities and refurbishing of current bathrooms.
- Escalators instead of ramps throughout the building's entrances to the balcony.
- Box-style seating in the south end of the bowl. Glass said this seating will not replace the bleachers in the south end, but could become an additional source of revenue for continued maintenance in Assembly Hall.
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning infrastructure upgrades throughout the building.
- Electrical and lighting upgrades, as well as a new broadcast center within the building for video purposes.
- A new screen above the bowl, which will replace the current scoreboard setup above the middle of Branch McCracken Court.
"The goal is to not really kind of have any change in there," he said.