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The state of Indiana's athletic program, Part 4

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For more on Indiana athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Hoosiers face changing sports landscape

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 10:36 am

Links to the rest of this series: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

BLOOMINGTON -- The world of college sports is changing faster than the Manti Te'o-imaginary girlfriend story.

Almost.

Conferences are expanding. Outlooks are altering as far as a football playoff, paying players, what NCAA enforcement emphasis should be, and more.

As Indiana's athletic director, Fred Glass is part of the process – sometimes as spectator, sometimes as participant. What does he think of all this change, where does he envision it going and what are the stakes for IU?

Glass recently met with the News-Sentinel to discuss where these issues in the final of a four-part Q&A series.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE BIG TEN GROWING TO 16 TEAMS AND DO YOU FAVOR THAT?

I'm still a traditionalist. I still think of the Big Ten pre-Penn State. I grew up in Indiana and I remember when the games were on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The basketball schedule started with one team and you worked your way through the conference, then you played them again and worked your way back. I loved that. I loved the old-time traditional rivalries, the traditional footprint stuff. If I had my way, it would probably always be 1975.

Things change. Everything is different. Downtown Fort Wayne is different. Downtown Indianapolis is different. It's different working for Lilly. A lot of major employers are gone. That's a long way of saying I think the expansion has been the right thing to do. Nebraska has been a great success. Penn State was a great success. The addition of Rutgers and Maryland will be great for the conference.

I don't believe there's any active interest or effort by the Big Ten to look for additional partners. There's attention to what's going on in the marketplace. So while I don't expect there to be two more teams to 16, I wouldn't be surprised if that popped up as an opportunity.

In terms of particular candidates I don't have any. I would share the same criteria that the presidents and athletic directors share -- high-quality academic institutions, high-quality athletic programs.

ANY REGRET THAT THE BIG TEN COULDN'T FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET NOTRE DAME IN? THE IRISH ARE MOVING FROM THE BIG EAST TO THE ACC.

Not for me.

FOOTBALL COACH KEVIN WILSON MAKES MORE THAN $1 MILLION A YEAR. BASKETBALL COACH TOM CREAN RECENTLY SIGNED A CONTRACT EXTENSION TO PAY HIM $3.16 MILLION A YEAR, NOT INCLUDING BONUSES. SOME COACHES AT OTHER SCHOOLS MAKE MORE THAN $4 MILLION ANNUALLY. HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT THESE ESCALATING SALARIES?

It's a huge concern of mine. The deregulation of sport is a potential risk. Maybe an even bigger threat for us is the ever escalating cost of coaches and facilities. You described the phenomenon of coaches' salaries moving up, that happens with facilities, too. We've got to have this kind of place to compete with these guys over here. The TV money is awesome because we can use it to do good things, but it's also a challenge because people have their hands out to get some of it.

The reality is as long as sports programming is successful, especially TV, that money will find its way into the system. Coaches represented by agents are going to be demanding what they perceive is their fair share of it. It will be a huge challenge for guys like me who want to allocate that money to things that enhance the student-athlete experience.

THE NCAA IS PROPOSING PAYING THE FULL COST OF A SCHOLARSHIP. HOW EXPENSIVE WOULD THAT BE? WOULD THAT BE UNFAIR FOR MID-MAJOR CONFERENCES SUCH AS THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE THAT MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT?

That's a real tough one. Where I come down from is we should do it because it's right for the student athlete. We need to put them in front of the institutions.

This is not paying kids to play. It's paying them over and above their scholarship. It's paying them that extra $2,000 to $3,000 that the federal government already takes into account as part of an education to do laundry, buy pizza, take a cab, whatever. Theoretically it's a reimbursement for expenses they already have.

DO YOU FAVOR THIS EXTRA EXPENSE?

I favor that. We expect so much out of our student athletes these days. They don't have the ability to work like I did when I was in Bloomington. They just can't.

It is hard on institutions. For us, it would be around $800,000 a year depending on how they define who gets paid what. Within our conference I mentioned before we have a fairly low budget, so that's a hurt on us. It's an expense I'm not eager to take on, but I think it's the right thing to do.

Yeah, it further separates the haves and have nots, but I'm not sure that's a reason not to do what's right for the kids.

DO YOU SEE COLLEGE SPORTS EVOLVING INTO FOUR SUPER CONFERENCES, OR EVEN AN ENTITY OF LARGER SCHOOLS THAT SEPARATES ITSELF FROM THE NCAA? IS THAT GOOD OR BAD?

I see college sports heading in that direction. The watchword of regulation has been to keep a level playing field. They are trying to make it so the lesser resource schools could compete with the higher resource schools. The NCAA has stated that's not really the coin of the realm anymore. That means there will continue to be a bigger divide between the higher resource schools and the lower ones.

That's a challenge for us because we're a low high-resource school. We can compete and are in the Big Ten, but compared to our peers we're fairly low resource. Whether that's good or bad, that's the reality of where we're going.

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE ABUSE SCANDAL AT PENN STATE AND THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING FORMER COACH JOE PATERNO, IS THERE A CONCERN THAT A COACH COULD HAVE SO MUCH SUCCESS AND BECOME SO POWERFUL THAT THE CHAIN OF COMMAND IS BROKEN? THAT HE OR SHE BECOMES HARD TO CONTROL AND ANSWERS TO NO ONE. YES, YOU COULD ARGUE INDIANA ALREADY HAS EXPERIENCED THAT WITH BOB KNIGHT.

I hope I have that challenge of multiple banners. I think we have great power coaches as part of the Golden Age we talked about. Tom Crean has resurrected the basketball program. We've talked about Todd Yeagley's strength in soccer. Ron Helmer is a Svengali in track and field. Kevin Wilson could become one of the most prominent coaches in the country. Let's face it. If he turns around football, it would be on the cover of every sports magazine in the country.

I think culture is critical in terms of compliance, in terms of power coaches understanding what their role is. You also have to have systems in place. Some schools, if they're relying on culture and not systems and checks and balances, they're getting into the danger zone a little bit.

I'm very comfortable and confident that our coaches understand that relative responsibilities of different people. Their roles are very focused on being excellent on their sports. Different administrators make sure that all happens within the context and values of the university.

There's never a big showdown. It's little decisions that get made along the way about responsibility and accountability. I feel very good that here we are making those decisions every day. Tom Crean, for example, is very aware of that and mindful of the balances that need to be struck between what's good for the basketball program and what the department needs to make sure everything stays in whack.

NOW THAT THE FOUR-TEAM FOOTBALL PLAYOFF IS HERE, DO YOU ENVISION IT WILL GET BIGGER, TO MAYBE EIGHT TEAMS, MAYBE MORE? IS THAT A GOOD THING AND SHOULD WE JUST GET THERE NOW RATHER THAN MESS AROUND A COUPLE OF YEARS WITH A FOUR-TEAM FORMAT?

I think going to eight teams is bad. I think kids are playing too many games as it is. We've gone from 10 regular season games to 12. Now we're going from one or two postseason games to two or three if you count the conference championship game, and the national semifinals and finals.

I just think it's too many games. Having said that, I think it's inevitable that we'll go to eight. Then, when eight won't be enough, we'll go to 16. It's a slippery slope. That's part of the reason I was reluctant to go to a playoff. I get it from a fan perspective. Maybe a fairness perspective made sense, but I think the slope is very slippery. Eight or more teams in a playoff is bad for the student athletes.