Indiana to rename Assembly Hall to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, $40 million in renovations to be completed by 2016

  • 12/19/2013 2:11 pm in

Indiana will rename Assembly Hall to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, university president Michael McRobbie announced today.

The name changes comes after Cindy Simon Skjodt (pronounced Scott), an IU alumna, made a $40 million donation to the athletic department. The name change will take effect in 2016.

Simon Skjodt is the daughter of the late billionaire Melvin Simon, who is the founder of Simon Property Group and former owner of the Indiana Pacers. Simon Skjodt is also a co-owner of the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice, with her husband, Paul Skjodt.

Indiana also announced renovations to Assembly Hall, as part of Simon Skjodt’s donation.

Among them, per a media release:

· Refurbishments will focus on improving amenities to enhance the fan experience while preserving the current seat configuration and seating capacity.

· The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and dramatic atrium. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby.

· New branding and graphics will be updated to celebrate the tradition and success of IU basketball.

· Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled and new bathrooms will be added.

· A large state-of-the-art video scoreboard will replace the current bifurcated scoreboard, improving fan experience for all fans in Assembly Hall, especially those sitting in the balcony.

· Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers and will generate revenue to pay for this seating and to help fund ongoing upkeep of Assembly Hall.

· HVAC and other infrastructure systems will be updated and a state-of-the-art broadcast technology center will be added to enhance IU Athletics video production and game day broadcasts.

Indiana had intentions of renovating Assembly Hall for a while, as athletic director Fred Glass told Inside the Hall in October that plans to renovate the 42-year-old building could be announced as soon as the end of the calendar year.

The complete release from IU athletics is available after the jump.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie today announced that IU Athletics has received a $40 million gift – the largest in its history – from IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt to provide much needed renovations to Assembly Hall and launch IU Athletics’ ambitious and unprecedented $150 million “Catching Excellence: The Campaign for Indiana University Athletics” capital campaign. President McRobbie also announced that in honor of the landmark gift made by Catching Excellence co-chair Cindy Simon Skjodt and her philanthropic organization, the Samerian Foundation, IU will rename Assembly Hall the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“The Simon Family name has long been synonymous with transformative philanthropy, and this extraordinary gift from Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family will allow IU to preserve and improve one of the great venues in college athletics for the next generation of Hoosier basketball fans,” McRobbie said. “We are deeply indebted to Cindy Simon Skjodt and the entire Simon family for their deep and continued support across the full spectrum of Indiana University’s mission.”

Cindy Simon Skjodt is a well-known philanthropist and passionate community leader. Cindy and the entire Simon family have been particularly generous to Indiana University, with a $50 million gift to the Indiana University Cancer Center in Indianapolis and the creation of Simon Hall on the Bloomington campus as a center for multidisciplinary science. Cindy recently endowed the Melvin Simon Chair in Philanthropy at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in honor of her late father. Other recent philanthropic gifts by Simon Skjodt have included a $2 million gift to IU Health Methodist Hospital for a new institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a Center for Professional Enrichment and a $2 million gift to endow a chair in the Herron School of Art and Design’s Art Therapy Program. Simon Skjodt has also helped to fund overseas study scholarships through the IU College of Arts and Sciences, committed funding to help create the IU Health Riley Hospital for Children Simon Family Tower, and supported along with her siblings the Bess Meshulam Simon Music Library and Recital Center on the Bloomington campus in honor of her late mother.

“I grew up going to Indiana University games and have great memories of watching basketball games with my father,” said Cindy Simon Skjodt. “The atmosphere in Assembly Hall is truly unmatched anywhere in college basketball.”

“Everyone in our family has enjoyed incredible experiences with Indiana University,” added Simon Skjodt. “We feel fortunate for our IU relationships and it is rewarding to give back. We hope others in Hoosier Nation who are able to do so will also give back to help make the Catching Excellence campaign a success.”

“This tremendous gift is another example of the extraordinary and ongoing dedication of Cindy and her family to the continued success of all aspects of Indiana University,” said IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “Their willingness to breathe new life into this important venue is inspiring and their efforts to lead by example with engagement and service are truly exceptional.”

“We are honored and thrilled that Cindy and her family are jump starting the much needed Athletics capital campaign with this historically generous gift,” said IU Vice President and Director for Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass. “Not unlike the way her father and uncle saved the Pacers for Indiana by buying the team in 1983, this gift will make it possible in essence to save Assembly Hall and preserve the best home court advantage in college basketball. We are all very grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt.”

Funds from the gift will be used for much needed renovations and improvements to the 42-year-old facility. The plan is to maintain the character and experience of the venue while enhancing the facility’s functionality so as to preserve the greatest home court advantage in college basketball. The renaming will take affect upon the completion of the renovations and improvements, which is currently anticipated to occur as early as 2016. The multi-year project will not interfere with basketball, commencement or other major activities that take place in the building.

Refurbishments of Assembly Hall will focus on improving amenities to enhance the fan experience while preserving the current seat configuration and seating capacity. The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and dramatic atrium. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby. Throughout the arena, new branding and graphics will be updated to celebrate the tradition and success of IU basketball.

Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled and new bathrooms will be added. A large state-of-the-art video scoreboard will replace the current bifurcated scoreboard, improving fan experience for all fans in Assembly Hall, especially those sitting in the balcony. Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers and will generate revenue to pay for this seating and to help fund ongoing upkeep of Assembly Hall.

Behind the scenes, Assembly Hall’s HVAC and other infrastructure systems will be updated and a state-of-the-art broadcast technology center will be added to enhance IU Athletics video production and game day broadcasts.

Assembly Hall has been home to IU basketball since 1971, and since then has hosted more than twelve million fans. Due to its unique, large-capacity design with the majority of its 17,472 seats on either side of the court, Assembly Hall – with the nation’s largest student section (7,800) – is regarded as one of the loudest, and most intimidating venues in college basketball. A 2012 poll of Big Ten basketball players judged Assembly Hall to be the toughest home arena in the league. Assembly Hall has been home to three men’s basketball national championship teams and the Hoosiers have a 504-98 record in the 42 seasons at the arena.

“Without question Assembly Hall is vital to the future of our program,” said Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean. “This incredible gift will ensure our players, coaches and fans are able to create many more memorable moments in a building filled with tradition and excellence.”

“All over the country, people know what an intimidating environment Assembly Hall can be. It’s one of our greatest assets and we are excited to see improvements made to our legendary facility that will dramatically improve the Hoosier fan experience.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family for their generosity in funding Assembly Hall’s renovations and kicking off the Catching Excellence campaign with this significant gift,” added Crean. “The Simon Skjodt family is made up of diehard Hoosier fans and Hoosier Nation will be proud to have the Simon Skjodt name grace Assembly Hall.”

“From the first moment our student-athletes walk into Assembly Hall, they understand how important this building is to our program, the university and the state of Indiana,” said Women’s Basketball Head Coach Curt Miller.

“It’s such an incredible honor to be the recipients of this significant gift from a woman who is both a generous IU alumna and devoted community leader,” added Miller. “We cannot thank Cindy enough. Beyond her extraordinary generosity, Cindy serves as an example and inspiration to young women, including the members of my team, through her leadership, passion and philanthropy.

The goal of the IU Athletics Catching Excellence campaign is to raise $150 million in private support for new and improved athletic facilities, endowments, and on-going annual support of student-athlete scholarships. Additional details of the Catching Excellence campaign will be announced in the coming weeks, including its other capital projects; honorary co-chairs; and steering committee members.

The Catching Excellence campaign name is derived from a Vince Lombardi quote: “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

Cindy Simon Skjodt graduated from Indiana University in 1980. She also holds a masters degree from Butler University. The Samerian Foundation is named for the Skjodt’s three adult children, Samantha, Erik and Ian Skjodt, who share the Simon enthusiasm and passion for IU’s Bloomington campus. Samantha and Erik are 2012 Indiana University graduates. Ian is currently a freshman at Indiana University. Cindy is married to husband Paul, a former professional hockey player who owns the Indiana Ice of the USHL.

In addition to founding and leading the Samerian Foundation, Simon Skjodt’s civic activities include her Board of Director position with the Indiana Sports Corporation and Coalition for Homelessness Prevention, the Indiana Pacers Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indiana University Foundation, Indianapolis Foundation, and Methodist Health Foundation.

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  • Devout Hoosier

    Many thanks to Cindy for this amazing gift.

    This is a hugely net positive for the place we love. This kind of great fan support will help keep Indiana on top. AH desperately needs renovations and I’m sure this donation makes it happen sooner rather than later. Thank you!

  • Benhyoung14

    Does this mean Coach Knight isn’t coming back?

  • Andrew

    State Farm Center. Things change, try to keep up. If you donated $40mm to IU for AH I’m guessing you’d want more than an entry way w/ your name on it.

  • Drew

    This is quite a generous contribution. However I have a feeling that despite her name being added to the title, very few will actually call it anything other than Assembly Hall.

  • Andrew

    Roy Williams OWNED Bob Knight. Ended the 1991 and 1993 IU seasons. Swept him in the 1993 season in fact, which is hard to do when you’re not in the same conference. Went 5-1 against him, KU vs. IU. Then dominated him in the Big 12. But you’re right, he couldn’t carry Knight’s jock. Facts be damned. Head-to-head matchups are overrated anyway.

  • MarkDIU10

    I know the Skjodts as I coached Erik in hockey. They live a life that none of us will ever know of. They have their issues like anyone else, but it cannot be denied that Cindy is a very generous woman. They do truly love and care about IU. You can rip them however you want, and they may not be my favorite people in the world, but I sure don’t see any former athletes or business people stepping up and donating money to upgrade a facility that has history for us all, but is seriously out of date. We don’t have to still have names on the jerseys. The candy stripes will remain. Fred Glass and CTC aren’t just going to lay down and do everything that the family wants. Traditions will remain.
    This isn’t the end of the world IU fans. You knew eventually there would be branding all over AH. Everybody sells out eventually.

  • Gregory Spera

    KFC Yum! Center, Comcast Center, State Farm Center, etc.

    Ya’ know… “Simon Skjodt” is starting to grow on me.

  • Alford Bailey


  • ” Will” take charge!

    But don’t improve teams

  • Kevin Tolliver

    If you’re really doing it for the program and the University then you wouldn’t care if your name was attached to the building name.

  • “WILL” take charge!

    This family also gave 10 mil to the cancer center in Indy ! If any of you have had to look that evil in the face , I think you would let them name it what they want . So Thank you very much , I appreciate your generosity.

  • AZIU71

    Roy Williams, Dean Smith never has one(two) coaches done so little with so much.

  • Raynger

    It’s the trend across the country — everything is for sale and I suppose it was inevitable–how sad. They should name the court after Coach Knight.

  • Southport65

    I loved Bob Knight”s basketball systems and used them for many years. He was a great Coach, a Hall of Fame Coach, but this idea of naming things after him has gone by.
    He had multiple former players, Coach’s, including Coach Crean, his own son, Fred Glass, Sports Writers and friends ask him to return and be embraced by the fans and University but he declined them all. The ball was in his court and he refused to come. That ship has sailed and it is time to move on. Thank you Soooo much for the donation from someone who still loves IU like we all do.

  • Calvin Murphy

    True. But if all it takes to get the donor’s incredibly generous gift is to feed their out of control ego by putting their name on some limestone, then you take it and say all the right things and everyone involved benefits.

    I’ll bet you anything that there was not someone else standing there with $40 M to offer and no naming requirement, or of course they would have taken it.

    I think it would be a firable offense to not take the gift of this donor. Why use tax dollars or money raised from soaking us with more fees when you can get a massive check simply in exchange for etching a name in the wall.

    It is an incredible deal. They would be foolish to not take it.

  • Calvin Murphy

    Well put, Southport. Only Knight would behave so petulantly when all reasonable people are telling him to do the simplest thing on earth: come back and be celebrated.

    How hard is that?

    He has not mellowed, matured or become wiser in his old age so far. He is a still a petulant, angry person and it must be terrible to walk around every day feeling all that anger toward what? toward whom?

    None of “those people” are even with IU anymore.

    Psst. Bob. It is safe now. You can come out of your duck blind and accept the thanks and gratitude of people who want to express it. Who and what are you fighting, exactly, when you refuse to come back?

    Oh…right. It is yourself that you are fighting, same as always.

    And you are losing.

    We’re fine over here without you, if you choose, but would love to see you come back for a warm welcome and tribute.

    Exactly what are you gaining in balling up your fist and shaking it at Bloomington? You are like an old man shaking your fist at the wind, at the past, at your own ghosts.

    It is sad to see. I was hoping you would overcome your ugly side by now…and I will just keep hoping that you grow and do just that.

    A better ending awaits if you can just be wise enough to write it. Even your son knows that and said so.

    Coach, are you listening?

  • 323 S. Grant

    Would prefer a brand new arena, but thanks to the Skjodt’s for their generous donation.

  • Michael Crawley

    They only got $15 due to attorney fees… lol

  • Raynger

    Unfortunately I do know of a coach that has.

  • Raynger

    I too hope that Coach Knight’s petulant behavior would end. That does not diminish what he accomplished at IU. You should read John Feinstein’s ‘A Season on the Brink’ and yes he had tantrums but he also was a good coach and was considerate. His faults have cost him not others but there is no reason for IU not to recognize his contributions, regardless.

  • gerald

    im sure there is a urinal in one of the restrooms we can name after coach knight…

  • IU80

    Can still have Bobby Knight Court.

  • ForeverIU

    Bob Knight admirers, don’t get too weepy and nostalgic. Two great Knight graduates are competing against each other as we speak, Coach Alford and Coach K. Proud of the General’s legacy. It’s the people he turned into winners and honorable men that will be the living embodiment of his legacy.

  • Andrew

    31-29. Good point on it still being AH vs. Center, Arena, etc.

  • Ole Man

    Thank you. You’re the only one who caught the “whimsy” of my post and responded in kind. 🙂

  • Kevin Tolliver

    I’m not saying IU shouldn’t take the money, of course they should. I’m simply stating that a gift has no strings attached.So lets stop calling it a gift.

  • yimyames

    Dickie V is gonna be pissed!

  • Snookafly

    On what planet do you think a billionaire determines their spending habits based on the opinions of internet posters?

  • Snookafly

    Uh, it’s only pronounced “Skpjozdt”, but it’s actually spelled Skykypzzppphhttjdt.

  • Snookafly

    Calling someone an “idiot” shows a lack of class.

  • Calvin Murphy

    No, I disagree.

    An *altruistic* gift that was given by someone with a pretty outstanding spirit for giving is a gift given with no strings attached. I cannot count the examples of people who gave gifts in my life, or that I know of, who were expecting gratitude, a quid pro quo, recognition, or other things in exchange or at least as a result.

    This is the norm. Perhaps not the ideal that you are speaking of and which I prefer personally as well. I wish it was that way. But it usually is not.

    This particular $40,000,000 donor person got gratitude and recognition for their gift, just as they wanted, and just as IU was willing to give them. She is a donor. Donors give gifts. Sometimes the donor expects nothing for their gift. This one expected something.

    No harm in that. They reached an agreement to each of their mutual satisfaction that has zero to do with us. They were all smiling and I am guessing it was genuine – signifying that they were all quite pleased about the results of the gift transaction for all.

    No law was broken, much good will come from it. Winners all around here, as is usually the case when people give generous gifts, no matter the degree of altruism involved.

  • Snookafly

    You must love reading your little basketball almanac because I’d bet money you had to look that up. I will say you’re partially right. While Roy choked away every title shot he had at KU he did consistently whip Knight’s teams. I still hate Jacques Vaughn.

  • Calvin Murphy

    Agreed, Raynger. Good comment and a good book. I enjoyed it when I read it. It is just silly. And sad. Most every former coach, former player, former mayor…whatever…who was beloved finds it in his brain to come back – but somehow, not Knight. A victim of his pride. This is his right, of course. But sad.

    Healing is worth swallowing one’s pride over.

    Resolving conflict is an honorable effort.

    Making peace is worth the effort.

    Life’s too short. Pat Knight said it himself about his dad and this very topic…and he would sure know best.

  • Snookafly

    Robert Montgomery Knight, baby!

  • Calvin Murphy

    No, I disagree. These two coaches are primarily the living embodiment of their *own* character, choices and probably their upbringing. Knight, the guy they spent 6 months with each season for 4 years is way down the list of influences and both have had periods of icy relationships with him and extended periods of no contact.

    Mike Krzyzewski and Steve Alford were plenty good people, honor students and high character guys before they ever met Bob Knight. He taught them many new and colorful words, along with outbursts and bullying. None of which, you will note, that neither person has emulated in their professional lives or on-court demeanor.

    These guys have the power of discernment to know which of his crap to ignore or tolerate or disregard as they make their own way in the world. They saw, experienced life with Knight and they went back to being the quality people they were before they met him. He’s way down on the list of reasons for their success.

    I know they were influenced…but they are not his legacy. They are their own men. They are their own people. His legacy is found in his actions, good and bad. Their legacy is found in theirs.

  • Steve Fischer

    We of course never know for sure who does and who does not read our postings. I know most attorneys would agree that what you post online often comes back to bite you. We don’t know if wealthy people read this perhaps it is just us bums, but why risk it? Some of us may become wealthy one day. At the time I made my original post there were only about 7-8 comments and each and every one was critical about the name change while no one thanked the donors. That was a bad trend which has since ceased.

  • Alford Bailey

    You are right. A “gift” comes with nothing expected in return. You take it and appreciate it, but this is really about an ego boost and a tax deduction.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    This is such great news! Thank you to the donor. I am sure this will be a nice recruiting tool going forward. Maybe there will be some that will be intrigued by the idea of playing in Assembly Hall in its traditional form but to also get to play in the newly renovated version as well. If I could make one request I would like to see would be to have all red seats. Never understood the blue, and never liked the blue.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Spin doctoring and revisionist history all in one. You need to refer to quotes from both men who have publicly attributed many of their philosophies and methods to Coach Knight. If you think his relationship with these two men stopped after their collegiate years you are wrong sir. I would bet a silver dollar that Coach Knight continued to teach and mentor about coaching and the game throughout the years. Coach K and Coach Knight did have an icy period but they repaired the bridge and moved forward.

    I think you should research what the word legacy actually means. Just because an individual had a mix of poor decisions it still does not alter the definition of legacy. You are right though, those two men among many others continued to build their own success through their own choices. However, that does not change the definition of legacy.

  • Andrew

    Not so much. I’m actually able to remember things! Imagine that. Partially right, ha…no, 100% right. Facts are facts, sorry. And there’s no “s” at the end of Jacque. He was a bball player, not an explorer. I just consulted my little almanac again.

  • Calvin Murphy

    Then tell me this….why aren’t Todd Leary (convicted felon) and Jay Edwards (drug use and trouble with the law) also his legacy? Why isn’t Dave Bliss (10-year show cause penalty for “blatant and sweeping disregard” of the rules in Baylor scandal)? Why isn’t IsiahThomas’ and his hstory of many legal, ethical and administrative failings his legacy? Is Knight not responsible also for these men’s post-Knight conduct too? Of course not! And he is also in no way responsible for the good choices of Alford and Krzyzewski. He did not have some magical effect by his presence on people…which is not to say he didn’t do nice things. My point is WE choose what WE do and how WE do it. Alford is no more a reflection on Knight than Todd Leary is. They both chose their paths. Knight did not choose for them.

  • ForeverIU

    “I know a lot of people don’t tell you this, Coach. But I love you.” — Krzyzewski’s words to Knight when he surpassed his win record. Spin this as you like, but I’ll take these as the genuine words of a student to his teacher and mentor.

  • ForeverIU

    Instead of reading spin, you should watch some of the interviews these two have given and what they’ve said about the influence of Knight on them as people and basketball players, one as recently as this past October with Alford on the Seth Davis show.

  • Ole Man

    I’m cautious (just my nature); but I think your post is right on the money.

  • mk

    Ohhhhhhhhh i get it now..tough to pick up what u were getting at over the internet

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Unfortunately they are a part of his legacy. They made their own decisions just the same as Alford and Coach K. If you for one minute believe that Alford and Coach K took nothing away from their time Coach Knight then I don’t know what to tell you. I believe they did and I feel that is also a part of his legacy. I will agree to disagree with you.

  • Braedon A. Engle

    this is bull crap. is there a petition yet?

  • wesmont

    Why is no one complaining about the fact that this 40mil is being wasted?The improvements are cosmetic,this great hall has the worst seating in america.The stairs are too steep,the seats are so cramped your knees ache after just a few minutes.And what are they going to do?A new entryway,are you kidding?Compare the comfort of watching a game in assembly Hall to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse,or Rupp or the Yum center.Those seats all on the side are a joke.