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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 07, 2019 1:00 am

State of IU athletics

Hoosiers AD proud of improvements in tenure

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

On April 6, when Indiana baseball took on Penn State at Bart Kaufman Field, the Hoosiers had a surprise fan in attendance: Bob Knight. He was last on Indiana's campus in 2000 when he was fired as basketball coach, but returned to take in the game in the press box. “It's nice being here,” the longtime basketball coach said upon arriving at the game.

The visit from Knight, 78, sparked all sorts of rumors that he might return for a basketball game in the near future, which would be a massive event at Assembly Hall.

In an interview with The Journal Gazette, Hoosiers athletic director Fred Glass downplayed that possibility.

“I think Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” Glass said. “We enjoy the fact that he came and he had a good time. I hope he comes back again. But I think we're getting ahead of ourselves if we think this signals anything more than coach was in town, he's a baseball fan and he was interested in coming. But we were more than happy to host him.”

The answer was part of an interview Glass did with The Journal Gazette to discuss IU Athletics. What follows are his answers, edited for space and clarity, to questions about Indiana's off-the-field exploits in 2018-19.

This is Part 1 of two-part interview with Glass that will conclude Monday. The second part will look at the year in Hoosier athletics between the lines on the fields, courts and diamonds.

Q. The department has done a lot of work on facilities in preparation for the Indiana University bicentennial this year. How do those new facilities affect the department?

A. I'm really proud of our investment in our infrastructure. I say this not too flippantly that when I came back as the athletic director in 2009, the physical athletics campus didn't look a whole hell of a lot different than it did when I left as a student in 1981. Assembly Hall was literally falling down, the football stadium was two grandstands facing each other, which looked very MAC-like if not Indiana high school Class 5A-like.

Upon the completion of the bicentennial we'll have invested close to $300 million in our athletics facilities, which will position us to be successful for at least the next generation. We are solidly back and in some cases leading the Big Ten in the quality of our facilities.

Q. Which one are you most proud you got done?

A.That's sort of like asking me to pick my favorite child. But I will say that I am probably most proud of the Excellence Academy in the south end zone of Memorial Stadium. And most of our fans will just see how that complements Memorial Stadium ... The really exciting stuff is what goes on inside the building.

It is 100% dedicated to the personal development of our student-athletes. It has a world-class nutrition center, a world-class wellness clinic, world-class center for elite athlete development, a leadership and life skills center ... beautiful new hydrotherapy, beautiful new training facility.

Q. How can the new Terry Tallen football complex, set to be completed in late July, affect football and the staff's ability to recruit?

A.I think the Terry Tallen facility is critical. To say it's the cherry on the sundae probably undersells how important it is. Because we have made a lot of investments in the football program ... We needed to catch up in football. The Terry Tallen football complex will pull it all together.

I think it will really push to the forefront not just in our conference but in the nation in terms of football-only facilities. So I think it's already paid dividends in recruiting, as some of our kids are able to visualize it, but until you actually see it, I don't think the impact will be fully felt. That's starting to happen now and it'll happen in full force this fall.

Q. When we spoke in 2018 (for the State of IU Athletics series), you said the toughest part of your job is being a have-not financially in a have league. Is that still the case?

A. Yeah I think that's the most difficult part. We've had a lot of success in identifying revenue streams, renegotiating some of our third-party deals, raising a lot of money, the TV deal with the Big Ten is obviously some wind at our back. But economically, we're fighting uphill, we're expected to win, appropriately so, in the Big Ten East, but Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State each make more money in one football game than we make in an entire home schedule.

And that matters, especially when you're trying to move up and break through. It's a challenge, I think we're meeting that challenge, primarily by raising money by creating niches and a culture that transcends money.

Q. Do you think Kevin Warren, who was recently announced as the next Big Ten commissioner, is the right man for the job?

A.I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Kevin. I don't know him, but his profile, his accomplishments over time, how well respected he is among NFL people, and I've talked to a number of people whose judgment I trust who think Kevin is going to be terrific. I'm excited about the choice and I really look forward to working with him.

dsinn@jg.net