Associated Press photos Football coach Kevin Wilson resigned Thursday after leading Indiana to a 26-47 record in six seasons a bowl appearance last year and a likely one this season after a fourth straight win over rival Purdue.
Tom Allen, left, is joined by Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass at a news conference introducing Allen as the new IU coach. Allen agreed to a six-year deal.
Thursday, December 01, 2016 10:01 pm
Wilson out, Allen in
MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press
BLOOMINGTON – When Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass woke up Thursday morning, he knew the Hoosiers’ football program would be turned upside-down.
By nightfall, Glass had collected Kevin Wilson’s resignation, Tom Allen’s agreement to succeed Wilson and was trying to swat away questions about whether the abrupt coaching change was related to pushing players to return from injuries too quickly.
It was one of the strangest days at one of the strangest moments in program history. Less than a week after becoming bowl-eligible for the second straight season, Wilson was out of a job because of what Glass described as "philosophical differences."
"I thought the core of what we talked about boiled down to leadership and how you are a leader," Glass said. "I think Kevin and I have some honest disagreements about how you go about that. I’m not saying I’m right and he’s wrong. I think we concluded, maturely and appropriately, it’s time to go our separate ways."
During a hastily arranged evening news conference, Glass never explained in detail how their approaches differed.
He was, however, peppered with questions about whether his decision was linked to reports about medical complaints during Wilson’s tenure.
Each time, Glass downplayed the significance of the reports although he did acknowledge athletic department officials hired an Indianapolis law firm to look into claims by some former players. The results, Glass said, showed Wilson’s players were treated properly.
"The reason I can speak so confidently that we don’t have any medical issues and that our medical care has been so robust is that the outside group found that to be the case," he said.
Glass even cited the example of Wilson’s own son, who has had concussions, to explain why Wilson was exceedingly cautious with head injuries.
Backup quarterback Zander Diamont also came to Wilson’s defense.
Following Saturday’s bowl-clinching victory over Purdue, Diamont announced he would not return next season because he could graduate this summer and had a history of head injuries. At the time, Wilson acknowledged he was surprised by Diamont’s decision and had already checked with Diamont to see if he might change his mind.
"I have no knowledge of my announcement last weekend having anything to do with Coach Wilson being fired. I certainly hope that’s not the case," Diamont wrote on Twitter, shortly after word leaked of the impending change. "Coach Wilson and IU football followed concussion protocol to the letter. Coach Wilson was completely supportive during my recovery and didn’t want me back on the field until I was completely recovered and, beyond that, felt that I was 150%."
Wilson departs less than 10 months after agreeing to a six-year contract extension worth $15.3 million. Glass said Indiana is only on the hook for next year’s base salary – $542,000.
Wilson went 26-47 in six seasons and was Indiana’s longest-tenured coach since Bill Mallory, the school’s career leader in wins, left after the 1996 season. Wilson’s teams had shown steady improvement over the years, earning their first back-to-back bowl bids in 25 years while tying the school record for most consecutive wins (four) against rival Purdue.
Neither Wilson nor his agent responded to messages seeking comment. Glass also said no potential NCAA violations were involved.
Allen’s promotion from associate head coach and defensive coordinator takes effect immediately, avoiding a coaching search as Indiana (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) waits to find out which bowl game it will play in. He agreed to a six-year deal.
"It’s hard to believe," Allen said. "This day has been an absolute whirlwind."
Before coming to Bloomington, Allen was the defensive coordinator at South Florida and served as a defensive assistant at Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Drake, Lambuth and Wabash. His only previous head coaching experience was at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis from 2004-06.