Five takeaways from Indiana’s press conference on Assembly Hall damage

  • 02/18/2014 10:41 pm in

Following the fall of a piece of metal from the ceiling of Assembly Hall on Tuesday afternoon, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass, men’s basketball coach Tom Crean and University vice president Tom Morrison spoke to the media regarding what happened.

Here are five takeaways — some of the main points — from Tuesday’s press conference:

· Indiana believes the incident was weather-related: Following a preliminary review and analysis from Indiana University chief engineer Jeff Kaden and two external structural engineers from Fink, Roberts & Petrie, it appears the collapse was weather-related and that there are no structural issues with the 42-year-old building.

Simply put, in the four corners of Assembly Hall, a facing of steel plating — which serves no structural purpose to the building — runs from each side up the middle at a curve. The preliminary assessment revealed that the snow and ice accumulation settled at the lowest point in the curve on the northwest side of the building, perhaps due to warm weather and melting.

The heavy weight of the snow and ice was so significant that it essentially popped that bottom, northwest corner plate off, and the 8-foot-long and 14-inch wide, 50-pound slate fell on seats located in the first five rows of Section F.

· Indiana will know by Wednesday afternoon how significant the damage is: Engineers will bring a piece of equipment — essentially a lift — to Assembly Hall on Wednesday morning to examine if there is structural damage to the plates on the corners of the building.

If those plates need to be removed, if pieces are loose or not tight, they will be removed. That is the solution Indiana plans on pursuing, though they are unsure how long that might take and whether men’s games would have to be relocated.

“It’s a little bit of unchartered territory,” Morrison said. “Our university engineer did tell me a little bit ago that he thinks the process could go quickly, but too early to tell until we get up there tomorrow morning.”

· Administrators are optimistic: With the problem confined to the corners of the building, Indiana has roped off certain areas to Assembly Hall, including the north and south bleachers and the four blue sections in each corner.

Because of a lighter anticipated crowd, Indiana’s women’s basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday will proceed as scheduled.

As far as men’s games are concerned, though, Glass said he is optimistic that the Hoosiers will be able to play their remaining home games at Assembly Hall, based on the preliminary review, but will know more on Wednesday.

· Make-up game date with Iowa still unknown: Only an hour after the fall, at 3:30 p.m., Kaden advised that Indiana postpone Tuesday night’s game with Iowa. Only 20 minutes later, word was released that game had been postponed.

As of Tuesday night, Iowa had left Bloomington and no make-up game date had been set, though Glass said the two sides are confident it will be rescheduled within the next 72 hours. If that does not happen, the Big Ten will intervene.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse offered to host the Indiana-Iowa game on Wednesday night, and Iowa was open to it as well. However, based on logistics of trying to plan a game within a 24-48 hour turn around, the Hoosiers declined the offer.

“Just the collective efforts that need to go in to putting on a Big Ten game,” Glass said, “our event staff felt like we couldn’t do it in a way that they were comfortable with.”

· A tragedy avoided: As Crean said on Tuesday night, “an incredible, tragic crisis was averted.”

Should that 50-pound piece of metal have fallen 100 feet during Tuesday night’s game, there would have been a certain risk of significant injury and potentially death.

The general vibe from IU officials, from the time they were assessing the damage on the court to the press conference three hours later, was that they are thankful this incident occurred while the building was empty instead of at the capacity of 17,472 fans.

Crean said he and his team were preparing for their walkthrough at the time this happened and even had 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh speak to his players pre-game. He had a feeling his players were “extremely ready to play” and had a positive mindset heading into Tuesday night. But the Hoosiers will adjust, accordingly.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get to do that,” Crean said. “But that pales in comparison to what any of us would have felt like at 9:30, 10:00 tonight if something would have happened inside that building, and that is exactly how I said it to the players after practice.”

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  • BeatWisconsin

    Well, that tweet was bad as the email I immediately got from a co-worker that said something like “the metal beam was reported to cut one of the nets down on its way down” – in reference to how non- Hoosier fans view our net cutting after the LOSS to Ohio State (man am I glad we played and beat Wisky before we started to melt down).


    I stopped defending him a long time ago and tweets like that one only reassures me that it was the right thing to do. ( And now in my best sarcastic voice) Oddly enough that coincided with when he started to say some not so flattering things about IU, Tom Crean and IU bball fans, which even more oddly was shortly after he was not given the head coaching job at IU, hmmmm. Coincidence, I think not.

    Starting to think that there is more merit to DD standing for Douchebag Dan instead of Dan Dakich, or take the confusion out of it all together and start calling him Triple D instead of Double D.

  • Shaggy_C

    Well, there’s also the financial implication…I highly doubt teams get reimbursed the transportation or lodging costs for “act of god” cancellations, so I would expect they would be more than happy to get the game over with just so they wouldn’t have to make a return trip. It’s a long, long bus ride to Bloomington from Iowa. As much as I’d like to think the vaunted IU 6th man scared them, I have to feel like they liked their chances against us this time around even at AH.

  • Shaggy_C

    Contractual obligations, I’m sure!

  • Shaggy_C

    I-69 making Bloomington more accessible might make that 30k achievable for the marquee games, but there’s no way you’re going to get people to drive 45 minutes each way on a weeknight to watch IU play league bottom dwellers (or RPI 300+ teams in the non-conference schedule for that matter). I have to think the AD and the university are attempting to strike a balance between extra ticket sales to the big games with the depressing sight of a 30% full arena for the rest of the season.

    On a side note, there’s no way we could ever hope for $300 million for renovations from simple fundraising. There are a very large number of “old school” IU donors to the Varsity Club who to this day will berate any IU affiliate who would dare ask for money (sorry, many long nights at the telefund back in the day). This is all thanks to the RMK fiasco, despite the fact it was almost 15 years ago. I’m not sure two Sweet Sixteens are enough to help them forget. When you’ve cut off such a large and loyal part of your donor base it’s hard to imagine a scenario where you can raise that kind of capital, minus a couple Kelley and Skjodt family members pitching in the vast majority, of course!

  • Shaggy_C

    Well, the fact that they don’t even have equipment in the whole of Monroe County capable of getting inspectors to that height should be a red flag right there. If you can’t reach the roofline without any ease, how are you going to inspect it regularly? Might be an excuse to invest in a 100-foot scissor lift for the physical plant!

  • Toms Crean

    Double post

  • Toms Crean

    If you think this fixed all of Assembly’s issues, fine. It’s a great start but about a third of the cost required to get AH up to other Big Ten venues.

  • Toms Crean

    Note to self: you cannot criticize AH or run the risk of down votes. It’s universally known that AH has some of the worst sight lines in all of college basketball but hey… Let’s ignore that..

  • Walton

    Exactly. I am not in the inspection business and there is plenty I don’t know, but is this common? Are certain sections of buildings not inspected for safety regularly?

  • Kyl470

    I could be wrong, but I bet they fly and don’t drive.