This is a one-on-one interview in its entirety that AllHoosiers.com conducted last week with Indiana athletic director Fred Glass. Glass was hired at a tumultuous time in IU history, beginning his job on Jan. 1, 2009. Since then he has orchestrated some major changes in the IU athletic department.
At the time he was hired, Glass was Indiana's fifth athletic director in eight years. Now the Hoosiers have a little stability as the top of the department as Glass is in his fifth year at IU.
In the interview, he talks about all of the changes, some thoughts on things to come, as well as his own opinion regarding whether IU should tear down Assembly Hall and get a new arena, or renovate the current building.
Here are the highlights in Q&A form:
Terry Hutchens:When you look at Indiana now compared to the way you found it five years ago, this place is really dramatically different in terms of programs and facilities and everything in between. Talk about some of the things that have facilitated that change.
Fred Glass: "I think it's almost impossible to overstate how much change has come at IU. A lot of it I was the beneficiary of my predecessor who had the courage and vision to pursue the North End Zone facility along with Coach Hoeppner and Adam Herbert. I never want to forget that they did great things with that. I inherited that and I think that was a huge plus and a big reason why we were able to jump up so substantially in attendance from about 30,000 to a little over 40,000. But we've tried to continue to invest in the program. When people ask me why football hasn't been successful at Indiana largely and traditionally, I think there are two reasons. One is we didn't make the investments and two is that we didn't stick with anybody. And there was a constant churning of leadership in football. Some of it we brought upon ourselves. And some of it was tragically put upon us like with Coach Hep's untimely death.
"But I think the changes are dramatic. Your listeners, or viewers and readers can make their own judgments but I think Memorial Stadium looks dramatically different, not only with the North End Zone but little things like painting the restrooms, putting up the 10th street stadium fence in place of that nasty, gauge fence, the barbed wire thing. I think putting a lot of branding in the concourses , Knot Hole Park, Kicks for Keeps, the 5 dollar tickets for students, now they're 10 but they were five dollars for four years. There's that gigantic scoreboard which is one of the biggest in the country. This year the fans will see the tallest flag pole in college football. A little more behind the scenes, the branding, the meeting rooms, the training table, the practice facility. This may be kind of a flippant comparison but football is a little bit like King's Island. If you're not adding a new ride every year to capture people's imagination, they start to lose interest. And I think people understandably wonder if Indiana is really serious about getting better in football and we try to answer that every year by showing the investments that we've made. Perhaps the most important investment was bringing in Kevin Wilson. We doubled the head coach's salary to get someone of his caliber. We doubled the salaries of the assistant coaches, we increased our strength and conditioning coaches from two to the NCAA maximum of five. So whether it's traditions or game day experiences, infrastructure or people, we feel like we're making the investments to get Indiana football to where we want it to be.''
Terry Hutchens:Compare the way the facilities look here now to how they looked when you were a student here in the early 1980's?
Fred Glass: "It's not even close. It used to be those ugly concrete grandstands facing each other with nothing in between. It looked kind of MAC-ish. Now, in the day it was cool and that was progressive. People thought they were crazy building that stadium when they had a perfectly useful 10th Street Stadium. It was visionary in its time but it just hadn't been added onto or upgraded. I think it's really night and day.''
Terry Hutchens:So you're saying you were a student after Memorial Stadium was built? (For the record, the first season at Memorial Stadium was 1960).
Fred Glass: (He laughs) "Yeah. I'm not that old. I graduated in 1981 so Memorial Stadium had been there for about 20 years before I graduated.''
Terry Hutchens:You talked (last week) in your press conference with the media looking at everything new this year about Assembly Hall. You talked specifically about your thoughts of renovating rather than rebuilding. I've always thought that was an interesting topic anyway but because of the footprint of where Assembly Hall is and being connected to Cook Hall, I don't know what you would do for a year any way if you had to go somewhere else. But renovating is really your thought with Assembly Hall moving forward?
Fred Glass: I am. It's one of those things where reasonable people can disagree. But I just feel right now we have a really incredible one-two punch with Assembly Hall and Cook Hall. Cook Hall adds all the modern amenities, bells and whistles, technology, all the stuff that coaches, athletes and prospective student-athletes are looking for. And then you combine that with an iconic, venerable old arena that people know when they're in Assembly Hall. I know it has some issues and we're trying to address those but it's a very, very cool place. I think it's a competitive advantage. Even if we could change it for free, I'm not sure we would want to do that. But the fact is we couldn't change it for free. It would cost about $300 million dollars by my best guesstimate. And I think that would suck the oxygen out of just about everything else we were trying to do here if we were chasing that. And then the product is not even that desirable, I don't think, to have a new stadium. And then how do you make it look different than a place like Wisconsin or Ohio State or different than a lot of the new stadiums? They make the multi-use and I get why but they end up looking like it's the 70s with Three Rivers Stadium and Busch Stadium and Riverfront Stadium and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, and I'd give you $10 dollars if you could figure out which one you were even in. I do think it needs some sprucing up. And I'm not talking about a gigantic overall comprehensive change but I think there's some reasonable things that we could continue to do to demonstrate the sport of men's basketball and how it has made Assembly Hall one of the greatest venues in all of college basketball.''
Terry Hutchens: You finished second overall in the all-sports cup and the staff that you have here which includes two national college coaches of the year. Just talk about maybe the momentum you guys seem to be building?
Fred Glass: "For a long time we've been talking about input and the investments we've been making. We increased our budget by about $20 million dollars from around $55 million to close to $75 million. It's not from student fees, it's not from the University, it's not from the legislature, that's money that we've generated from a variety of ways. And with that money we've been able to add strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, academic advisors, branding, invest in facilities and all of that. And now I think we're starting to realize some outputs from those investments that we've made. We've got more teams qualifying for postseason play. We've got more teams finishing in the top 15 in the country. More All-Americans. More Academic All-Big Ten selections. More distinguished scholars. Higher GPA's. Higher APR's and then a national championship in soccer, coached by the first coach that I hired, Todd Yeagley, who along with Tracy Smith were both national coaches of the year. All the amazing coaches we've had at Indiana, we've never had two national coaches of the year in the same academic year which I think is extraordinary. Baseball, the first College World Series, first Big Ten participant there since 1984, first outright Big Ten champs since 1932. Men's basketball , even though it feels to me like we were good in basketball just a little while ago, you know it was the first outright Big Ten championship since 1993. First back to back Sweet Sixteen's since 1994. We had the national player of the year. Two top four picks and so forth and so on. And then I think 15 of our teams qualified for postseason play. It goes on and on. So now I think we're really starting to get momentum. I think we're really getting close to being able to lay claim to new goals made for Indiana University athletics but we can't do that with credibility until football gets where we want it to be and I think we're close to being there, too.''
Terry Hutchens: I remember talking to (former IU athletic director) Clarence Doninger years ago and I remember him always talking about how there was a five-year plan and a 10-year plan and different things they were always looking forward to. I'm sure as he looks at Indiana today he has to be pretty proud. But my question for you, knowing you as I do, is what's next? Is there something out there that you really want to do before your legacy is over at Indiana University?
Fred Glass: "Well, we talked about that in vague terms a little earlier but we're getting ready to start a major, new capital campaign which will include projects that I think will be nothing less than transformative for the department. Herman B Wells was often heard to say, ‘Make no little plans. They lack the magic to stir men's blood.' He acted like he said it but I think (Daniel) Burnham actually said it originally. But I follow that. I don't like to be involved in small things. I like to be involved in really big things. It's easier to be involved in big things because you can get excited about them. In the coming weeks and months we'll be rolling out what is next in terms of facilities at Indiana University and I think it will be transformative for a generation.'
Terry Hutchens:I do a Five Questions segment with Indiana athletes that I do on our site. So I'm going to give you a quick five. Number one, who was your favorite Indiana University basketball player growing up?
Fred Glass: "Probably George McGinnis. The guy was just unbelievable. He was so big and so strong but so graceful. And just a really good guy. And I watched him in sectionals at Hinkle when I was a little kid and so I felt connected with him because I watched a lot of those Washington games. I'm not that old. I'm not that much younger than George but he was probably the first guy I really enjoyed following.''
Terry Hutchens:I always ask the athletes what they're favorite place to eat in Bloomington and what they like to order. I don't want to get you in trouble with local merchants now but back in '81, when you were here, what was your favorite place to eat?
Fred Glass: "Back in '81 it was Ladyman's Cafe. It was like this great cafeteria with all of this home comfort food. It was a great place to go on a Sunday morning after you had been out late the night before. The place you wanted to eat and get right with the world was Ladyman's Cafeteria. It was spectacular.''
Terry Hutchens: Musical interest? Favorite artist, something like that?
Fred Glass: I'm going to date myself. Back in '81, it was like the Allman Brothers, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Southside Johnny and The Asbury Dukes, the Stones, The Who and so forth but now the newer music for me is like The Decemberists. I guess I would say that's a band I like recently.''
Terry Hutchens:Pittsburgh has Linebacker U, Miami is the Cradle of Coaches, what is it with Brebeuf Jesuit High School in Indianapolis and turning out athletic directors?
Fred Glass: "It's just in the great history of the Jesuits that produces leaders. Athletic directors are leaders so there's no reason why we shouldn't have a healthy complement of leaders from Brebeuf Jesuit. By the way, I don't know if you noticed this because you probably don't read the Indianapolis Star anymore, but back on like page 8 there was a story about how the Brebeuf Braves spanked the Chatard Trojans the other night. Chatard was ranked No. 1 in the state and Brebeuf went in there and spanked them so just another positive thing about Brebeuf.''
Terry Hutchens: The last question is did you have a mentor, someone growing up, that really influenced you and helped you along the way?
Fred Glass: "Yeah I did. Father J. Paul O'Brien was my German teacher and the dean of students at Brebeuf. And he was sort of the quintessential Jesuit. He was very practical, a man of the world, very spiritual and I don't know if other people have this experience but in some ways I understood a lot more of what he was trying to do with me after I left Brebeuf than when I was there. He died young (he died at age 67 in 2004) but he continues to influence me in ways that I didn't really have a sense of when I was actually a student at Brebeuf.''
Terry Hutchens: Thanks so much Fred for taking a few minutes to give some insights to followers of our new AllHoosiers.com site.
Fred Glass: "It's my pleasure. I wish you nothing but good things in your new venture."
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