Fred Glass Archive
In our recent conversation with Fred Glass, we covered a variety of topics. Among them: Big Ten expansion, student ticket sales and the future of Assembly Hall.
Also discussed in that conversation were Indiana and Purdue only playing once this year in basketball, guarantee games and the absence of a marquee non-conference home game and returning to a “golden era” of athletics at Indiana.
Here are the athletic director’s thoughts on both of those topics, in Q & A format:
Inside the Hall: We talked to you about this at Huber Winery over the summer at the Tailgate Tour and it was kind of a hot topic at the time because a couple weeks before that, it was announced that Indiana and Purdue would only play once this year in basketball. I know at that time you said you’d be in favor of a protected rivalry where the schools would play twice every year. What would be the process as far as getting something like that done? In football, there’s something like that, but what would the process to be able to do something like that look like and is that something you’re actively engaged in dialogue on?
Fred Glass: Yeah, I talked to the commissioner about expanding, in a limited way because there just aren’t as many bed rock rivalries as there are in basketball as there are in football, and because of the frequency of games, there would be fewer situations where you’re only talking about one game in a real storied rivalry. And I guess I don’t understand why we’d go to pretty great lengths to protect those in football and just sort of ignore them in basketball.
And I think there’s some interest in doing that. The schedule makers in the conference would have some frustration with that because they’ve already got so many things to work around with arena availability and all of that stuff, it would be one more thing they’d have to include in, but I think if we didn’t go crazy and recognized that there’s a handful of basketball rivalries that we just ought to protect, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue.
ITH: On the scheduling front, a lot of it is the head coach doing the scheduling, but as far as negotiating how much is paid to the smaller schools to come play at Indiana, what role do you play in that?
In a recent conversation with Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, Fred Glass reminisced to his first year as IU’s athletic director.
Crean was in the midst of his first season as IU’s head coach in 2008-2009, and the team was on its way to its worst record in school history. Student season tickets sales were so poor, just more than half of its allotted space of 7,800 seats had been filled.
“Shoot, we were doing everything we could. I can’t remember the exact number that first year, I think we ended up with 4,200 or something like that,” Glass said in a recent interview with Inside the Hall. “Which at any other university in the country would be the best year they’ve ever had, but for us, was extremely disappointing.”
For the next three seasons, students who bought season tickets would have access to every home game. But as Indiana’s on-court success returned, demand grew as well. Last season, with a preseason No. 1 team, students were given access to only 10 games each. However, heading into this season with far-fewer on-court expectations, demand is up. Around 15,000 student season ticket sales have been sold, and students who bought season tickets were given eight games — only half of the amount they had received only two years ago.
“In fact, I had to remind myself that that wasn’t normal for the new students, and when we went to (fewer games), there would be a little a culture shock, of, ‘Wait, what do you mean? We always get every game’,” Glass said. “Well that was their normal for two or three years, but still, it was their normal. And we probably didn’t do a very good job, especially that first year, of letting people know that’s how that was going to work.
“And I take responsibility for that, because to me, it was so part of Indiana that that’s how it worked, that I sort of forgot that it wasn’t the reality of the kids who had been here for two or three years.”
When Glass was a student at Indiana from 1977 to 1981, receiving only half — maybe even a third — of home games as part of a season ticket package was normal. Back then, 15,000 students purchasing season tickets was typical. But Indiana’s basketball team hasn’t received this much attention from its students in years.
Conference expansion and realignment have changed college athletics significantly.
And whether you are a fan of what has taken place or oppose the breakdown in tradition brought about by these changes, the Big Ten has been ahead of the curve.
With the conference reportedly paying out close to $26 million to each member institution in the last fiscal year, including $7.6 million from the Big Ten Network, it’s not hard to see why schools like Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers opted to leave their respective leagues to join.
The Big Ten is distributing the most money of any conference to its members and with the growth of BTN and network TV contracts, the numbers should only continue to grow.
While the ultimate decisions on expansion are handled at the presidential level, the Indiana athletic department plays a key role in advising President Michael McRobbie.
In a conversation last week in his office that overlooks Memorial Stadium, Fred Glass spoke to Inside the Hall about IU’s role in the expansion process, the potential for future expansion and the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, who will join the league next fall.
“The athletic departments are a little like the working group,” Glass said. “They’ll sort through things and take a recommendation to the presidents and I think it’s highly unlikely that the athletic directors would agree on something that the presidents wouldn’t ultimately adopt.”
Glass was quick to point out that consensus amongst conference members is important in any discussions on expansion, which makes the role of each institution a significant one in the overall process.
“I think the view of the conference is and the view of the commissioner is, we’re not going to go that way unless there is basically a consensus view that we should do that,” he said. “We’re not going to expand on a 7-to-5 vote or I guess now it’d be a 8-to-6 vote when those two new schools come in. It’s going to be pretty much everyone thinks this is a good idea.
“So I tell you all that because I think our role is pretty significant because I think it’s certainly possible that if everyone was for it and we were against it or if everyone was for it and Minnesota was against it or if everyone was for it and Penn State was against it, it may not happen. And certainly if two or three institutions were against an expansion, I don’t think it would happen.”
Fred Glass knows how the script goes.
From growing up in the Indianapolis area, to now as Indiana’s athletics director, Glass would watch the same scene play out over and over, year after year: Opponents would enter Assembly Hall optimistic, maybe even confident, and then after looking up at the wall of 17,400-plus fans clad in cream and crimson “going absolutely crazy,” they cringe. They unravel.
In a world of college basketball that has become increasingly known for its games being played in multi-purpose arenas, Indiana’s Assembly Hall is becoming the anomaly. Since the 1971-1972 season, the building has been home to three national champions. The tradition, the history, even the angle of the building’s seating in relation to the court, is exactly what makes Assembly Hall different from any other college basketball venue. And for Glass, being far from the norm is exactly what he wants.
“When the lights come on, Gus Johnson doesn’t need to say you’re in Assembly Hall,” Glass told Inside the Hall in an interview in his office at Memorial Stadium earlier this week. “You know you’re in Assembly Hall.”
But for a building that has been around for more than 40 years, it has flaws. The steps are at different lengths. Not all the seating is considered “premier.” A segment of fans want the building torn down and replaced with a new, state-of-the-art arena. That’s not happening, Glass said. But he is quick to admit Assembly Hall needs renovations, especially to make it more “fan-friendly.” He is ready to lead that effort.
Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2013-2014 Indiana Hoosiers. Next up, we tackle this question: What will expectations for next season’s team look like?
When Tom Crean took the Indiana job in April of 2008, there was an understanding from the school’s administration and from the fan base that he would need time to build the program back where it previously been.
In the last two seasons, those that patiently waited with Crean and his team through the dark days were rewarded with back-to-back trips to the Sweet Sixteen, a Big Ten title, and more than a few big wins.
The expectations grew to such an extreme level last year, however, that any time Indiana lost a single game, it was viewed as a letdown and a disappointment by some. Beat Michigan at home, and well, that’s what you were expected to do. But lose to Wisconsin and Ohio State, and suddenly, the sky was falling.
Now, with a roster full of freshmen and lacking most of the guys responsible for bringing the program back, where will those expectations go? Will they remain high because the program has been restored and the standards have been reestablished? Or will they lower a bit to match the team’s relative inexperience?
I asked Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass that exact question a few weeks ago.
“Regardless of the program, you gotta take it year by year and calibrate your expectations,” Glass told Inside the Hall. “I tried real hard not to set any arbitrary expectations that ‘this season is gonna be a bust if we don’t win X number of games, don’t qualify for postseason play.’
“I’m looking for improvement with what we’ve got, not necessarily improvement from year to year but improvement from the team that comes in throughout the season.”
Ever since Indiana’s talks about continuing a series with Kentucky broke down, athletics director Fred Glass and Tom Crean have been working to find another marquee non-conference opponent.
Glass and Crean may have finally found one, though not for this upcoming season.
As first reported by The Indianapolis Star, Indiana will play in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in December of 2014. Indiana will receive $200,000 for playing in the event from an agreement with ESPN. The Star gained access to the contract via a public records request from the school’s legal department.
The Star’s report said Indiana’s Jimmy V Classic opponent would be Louisville, which Inside the Hall reported as a possibility back in June.
But Louisville has not yet signed an agreement to play in the event, associate athletic director Kenny Klein told WDRB’s Rick Bozich Wednesday night.
“We have had discussions about playing in that event but do not have an agreement,” Klein told Bozich. “That’s premature.”
Louisville has been discussed as a potential home-and-home candidate for Indiana ever since Kentucky was dropped from the schedule, but no such agreement has been reached to this point.
An Indiana-Louisville matchup could still happen in 2014 at Madison Square Garden, but it’s too soon to say it’s a done deal.
“To say that we have a deal to play that game is premature,” Klein told Bozich.
(Update: Rick Pitino to C.L. Brown of The Louisville Courier-Journal on playing IU at MSG: ”Excited to be playing back in a special arena where we won back-to-back Big East championships.”)
Update: A previous edition of this story said Indiana had sold 15,500 student season tickets for the 2013-14 season. Fred Glass gave us that number on Tuesday night, but after checking the records, indicated later that the number is actually closer to 14,500 at this point.
When Fred Glass was hired as Indiana’s Athletics Director in 2008 and began his tenure in early 2009, he tried everything he could to get students to buy basketball season tickets. The number of students he could put in the stands at the time was right around 4,000.
Fast forward to now, fresh off a Big Ten regular season title and second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen, and Glass is facing a different problem entirely. The demand of student tickets has increased close to the level of Glass’ days on campus, and his plan is to just keep selling them.
Glass told Inside the Hall on Tuesday night that 14,500 student season tickets have been sold for the 2013-2014 season. The student section has a capacity of 7800, and as of right now, each student with season tickets will get to attend eight games.
If that number continues to grow significantly, however, students may get even fewer than eight games, though Glass said he “doubts” that will happen.
“Traditionally, IU has oversold the basketball seats,” Glass said. “When I was on campus, it wasn’t unusual to sell 17,000 or 18,000 tickets and then you got a subset of the total package. So if they solid twice as many tickets as they had seats, you got half the games and so forth.