Jeff Rabjohns, Peegs.com

Transcript: Indiana's Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall dedication

Here is the full transcript of the formal ceremony for Indiana's dedication of the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall following its $40-million renovation.

Here is the full transcript of the formal ceremony for Indiana's dedication of the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall following its $40-million renovation.

The transcript was provided by Indiana University:

PRESIDENT McROBBIE:

Well, good afternoon.  I am delighted to welcome all of you to the dedication of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, our magnificently transformed basketball arena at Indiana University, Bloomington.  

The superb renovations to this iconic landmark that you can see have largely been made possible through a $40 million gift from Cindy Simon Skjodt and her philanthropic foundation, the Samerian Foundation, and her family, as well as several other major donors, Mark Cuban, Hank Menke and his family, Ken Nunn, Steve and Kathy Henke and Joe and Shelly Schwarz.  

Please join me in celebrating the generosity of all of these friends of Indiana University.  

I'm delighted to see that we are joined today by so many colleagues and friends of the university.  It's always a pleasure in gatherings such as this one to recognize those individuals who contribute so much to this campus and to the university community.  

I'd like first to introduce the members of the IU Board of Trustees who have joined us today.  I ask them to stand as I call their names.  

With us today are James Morris, chair of the trustees; MaryEllen Kiley Bishop, vice chair of the trustees; W. Quinn Buckner of Bloomington; Philip Eskew, Jr., of North Webster; Michael Mirro of Fort Wayne; Andrew Mohr of Indianapolis; Patrick Shoulders of Evansville; Melanie Walker of Bloomington; and Anna Williams of Indianapolis, our student trustee.  

Please join me in welcoming our trustees.  

I'd also like to welcome a colleague who plays a central role in the development and construction of all new and renovated IU facilities, Indiana University vice president for capital planning and facilities, Thomas Morrison.  Please join me in greeting him, as well.  

I would also like to recognize Tim Jeffers who is representing the architectural firm of record on this magnificent project, CSO Architects.  

The renowned Australian architect Rod Sheard, who designed both the Sydney Olympic stadium and London's Olympic stadium, making him the only architect in the modern era to have, in fact, designed two Olympic stadia, writes that stadia and sports arena are cities for a day that host the population of a city for a few hours and punctuate our lives with enjoyment and sometimes disappointment.  The ideal arena, he writes, is clearly the one in which our team always wins.  

He goes on to write, ‘What people really want in sports arenas are comfort and safety’.  He writes, ‘Buildings that allow us to be comfortable in the enjoyment of the event, buildings in which it is safe for us to become part of the crowd, to feel comradeship, togetherness, and to feel that we are part of something big.’  

Today, we recall the many momentous occasions that live on in the collective memory of the millions of Hoosiers and others who have experienced that sense of togetherness here in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  

Today we celebrate the major improvements that have been made to one of college basketball's most iconic venues, which has been called by some people the Carnegie Hall of basketball, so that future generations of Hoosiers fans can continue to enjoy similarly unforgettable experiences and feel the sense that they are part of something big.  

The rich history of IU basketball includes, of course, the history of the facilities that have been its home.  IU Assembly Hall was built in 1896.  It was a wooden building that by modern standards more closely represented a large house than a basketball arena.  It was located on the eastside of Owen Hall and had a capacity of only 600 people.  It was the site of the IU's first home official basketball game in 1901.  

In 1917 men's basketball moved to the men's gymnasium, now part of the facilities of the School of Public Health.  When fans complained that the wooden backboards obstructed their view, a glass company created backboards of an inch and a half thick plate glass and the men's gymnasium became the first facility in the country to use glass backboards.  

Basketball grew enormously in popularity over the next decade, and IU needed a larger arena.  The Fieldhouse, now known as the Intermural Center, opened in 1928.  It was the state's first true basketball stadium and served as one of collegiate basketball's classic venues for more than 30 years.  

In 1960, men's basketball moved into the new Fieldhouse, now known as the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse.  It was the site of two historic performances by Jimmy Rayl, who scored 56 points twice in games against Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Michigan State.  

In 1971, the new assembly hall named in honor of IU's first basketball arena and multi-purpose building of the same name became home, not only to the men's basketball team, but also to the woman's basketball team, which became a varsity sport in the same year.  

Over the years, Assembly Hall has hosted concerts by Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, and by the newest Nobel laureate in literature, Bob Dylan, and include visits by dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama, and hundreds of thrilling men's and women's IU basketball games witnessed by millions of fans.  

Assembly Hall has been home to three national men's basketball championship teams, and 14 conference championship teams, including two in the last four seasons.  

It is a beloved building where countless people have had unforgettable experiences, including their first game, special family memories and moments of excitement, heartbreak and joy.  Over the years it has achieved the stature as one of the most revered and iconic basketball arenas in the United States.  

But when we began these renovations, Assembly Hall was nearly 44 years old and sorely in need of major renovation so that it could continue to serve future generations of student-athletes and fans and maintain its legendary status.  

There is a long list of people to whom we owe enormous debts of gratitude for helping us reach this moment.  In thanking them we must, of course, begin with the family whose name this arena now bears, the Simon Skjodt family.  As I had the great pleasure of announcing in December of 2013, IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt and her philanthropic organization the Samerian Foundation made an extraordinarily generous gift of $40 million, the largest gift in the history of IU athletics, to be used for the much-needed extensive renovations of Assembly Hall.  Cindy and her family have been remarkably generous supporters of Indiana University over many, many years.  

The Simon family name will forever be interwoven with the great achievements of Indiana University.  Their vision and support for the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, IU's world class Jacobs School of Music, award-winning Simon Hall, and the nationally recognized Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis have had a tremendous and transformative effect on this university.  

In 2013, Cindy generously donated $2 million to endow a chair in the Herron School of Art and Designs art therapy program.  The same year she made a generous gift of $1.5 million to endow the Melvin Simon Chair in Philanthropy in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in honor of her late father Melvin Simon.  

Cindy also serves on the IU Board of Directors and Leadership Council.  She served as co-chair of the highly successful Matching the Promise Campaign, and now co-chairs IU's athletic portion of the current university-wide For All bicentennial campaign.  

I know that this gift and this renovation have a deep personal meaning for Cindy as she has so many fond memories of attending basketball games here with her late father Mel Simon.  I, in fact, was privileged enough to have heard a conversation between Cindy and Mel not long before his death in which they reminisced about these times.  

So I would once again like to extend on behalf of Indiana University our truly most sincere thanks to Cindy Simon Skjodt, to her husband Paul, the owner of the Indiana Ice, who is also here with us today, and to their entire family.  

Please join me in thanking them.  

Your generosity will touch the lives of countless student-athletes, coaches, alumni and friends of IU, and it will help IU's men's and women's basketball programs to continue to thrive and excel for many more decades to come.  

I also want to thank another visionary alumnus, Mark Cuban, whose generous gift of $5 million in 2015 established the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology.  Mark's generosity and vision have allowed IU to create a one-of-a-kind student-focused video broadcasting and technology center that makes IU athletics the national leader in 3-D broadcast and replay, virtual reality, and 3-D virtual technologies. 

I want to express our deepest gratitude to Mark Cuban for his generosity and his vision in supporting the establishment of this center as well.  

Please join me in thanking Mark in absentia.  

The vision and leadership of Cindy Simon Skjodt and also of Mark Cuban have inspired many others to join the efforts to preserve and improve this truly great college basketball venue.  On behalf of the university, I want to extend our most grateful thanks as well to all of the alumni and friends who have helped to make this superb renovation possible.  

I also want to commend the athletics director Fred Glass and his staff, including Big Ten coaches of the year Tom Crean and Teri Moren, and their current and former players, many of whom are here today, for all that they have done to help to make this project such a stunning success.  

Again, I also want to commend Tom Morrison as well as the many other design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who oversaw this very complex and visionary renovation.  

Finally, I would like to thank our trustees for their steadfast and enthusiastic support not only for this renovation but also for their support over recent years for the renovation, renewal and repurposing of IU's extensive existing facilities right across the state on all campuses and more generally for their continuing and ongoing efforts to guard and care for the welfare of our institution.  

Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, said in a speech in Indianapolis in 1936 that basketball really had its beginning in Indiana, which remains today the center of the sport.  Eighty years later, most Hoosiers would agree that Indiana is still the center of basketball.  

The renovation we celebrate today will ensure that future generations of Hoosiers will be safe and comfortable as they gather in the city for a day to enjoy unforgettable experiences, as so many others have done over many, many remarkable decades.  

Now I'd like to introduce and welcome to the podium, G. Frederick Glass, Indiana University Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.  Please join me in welcoming him.  

G. FREDERICK GLASS:

Good afternoon, everyone.  On behalf of everyone affiliated with Indiana University athletics, let me be among the very first to welcome you to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  While every day is a great day to be a Hoosier, that is particularly true on this day, and I thank you for being here to be part of this exciting celebration.  

From the start, the goal of this renovation was to preserve the best home-court advantage in college basketball.  As we stand here today, I trust you'll agree that we've not only preserved it, but we have dramatically enhanced it.  

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of so many, the renovation has maintained the unique and special character of this iconic building while adding to it new amenities and modern technology to substantially improve the fan and player experience.  

As President McRobbie noted, when the renovation began, this building was nearly 44 years old.  It was figuratively and actually literally falling apart.  You remember that?  Not good.  

We needed to and did do all of the necessary and actually fairly boring infrastructure improvements that no one ever sees, but that Vice President Morrison insisted we do, and that actually are central to extending the life of this treasure for generations to come.  

Other more visible improvements were also planned and completed, too numerous and extensive to set forth in detail right now.  Here are a few of the highlights.  

The beautiful Ken Nunn Champions Plaza.  This spectacular south atrium and lobby.  New and remodeled restrooms.  Improved and expanded concession stands.  Escalators in the north and south lobbies.  A giant new state-of-the-art scoreboard.  All new bleacher seats, non-bleacher seats.  New acrylic guardrails.  This beautiful terrazzo floor.  New signage reminiscent of the old graphics and memorabilia throughout.  Improved accessibility.  Special hospitality seating in the Henke Spirit of 76 Club.  A renovated and modernized press room and new permanent media seating.  Last but not least, the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology.  

Just like basketball, a major renovation like this is a team sport.  While time doesn't permit me to thank by name all of those who contributed to this project, there are several people who I would be remiss in not recognizing.  

First, Cindy Simon Skjodt.  Cindy, thank you and your family, Paul, Erik, Samantha, Ian, not only for your generous financial gift but for all of your personal counsel and support to me and us during this campaign.  

Your early transformative gift paved the way for the generosity of others.  You inspired people.  For example, our women's basketball players see you as a great role model and are proud to play in a building bearing the name of a strong and extraordinary woman.  Especially as someone who had the honor of knowing your father, and as the father of a daughter, I know he is proud of you today.  

I encourage all of you to experience the story actually set forth in your programs and the image of Cindy and her father that is here in the south lobby just to the left of the window on the court.  It gives me chills every time I do.  

I'd also like to thank the other major donors for this project, Mark Cuban, Ken Nunn, Hank Menke and the Menke family, Steve and Kathy Henke, and Joe and Shelly Schwarz.  

Thanks also to our campaign co-chairs, Cindy Simon Skjodt, Quinn Buckner, Larry Rink, Ned Pfau, Steve Henke, Wayne Radford, Jeff Cohen, Kem Hawkins and Tom Rush.  

I can't say enough about the tremendous contributions of vice president of our capital planning facilities Tom Morrison and his amazing staff, including John Lewis, Mia Williams, Michelle Bucklin, Tom Williams.  

I'd also like to recognize the incredible work by our in-house IU craftsmen who took such pride in being involved in this building, especially the carpenters, the plumbers, electricians, the painters and sheet metal workers, you all are the best.  

Thanks also to our private sector partners, especially the SmithGroup, CSO Architects, Shiel Sexton and Sport Graphics.  

I'd also like to thank the staff of IU athletics.  Again, a special thanks to our amazing in-house IT staff for their work on the amazing interactive displays, which will be a gift that keeps on giving as Hoosiers fans enjoy the information that it provides.  

As a point of personal privilege, I'd also like to thank Tom Crean, who was involved in every step of the way in our conversations with Cindy, including the ask itself.  

Without Tom's dogged and visionary leadership in bringing IU men's basketball back from the mess he inherited, and the confidence that that has engendered in Cindy and others, I sincerely doubt that we would be here today.  

In that same vein, I'd like to thank Gayle and Carl Cook, the late Bill Cook, and the extended Cook family.  Without their gift making the start-of-the-art Cook Hall a reality, I'm not sure we would have had the flexibility to preserve this iconic venue.  

Finally let me give my special and profound thanks for the vision, leadership and support of President McRobbie and the Board of Trustees, without whom this amazing renovation would simply not have happened.  

Thank you for your time and attention, and go IU.  

With that, it is my honor to introduce really the woman of the hour, Cindy Simon Skjodt.  

CINDY SIMON SKJODT: 

Sit down (laughter).  I might get a little emotional, so bear with me.  I'm overwhelmed.  

I want to thank my family for all being here, my good friends, and their support.

When we began this odyssey in 2013, I never dreamed this day would be quite as thrilling.  There are so many things I want to say, but I might get a little emotional, so please bear with me.  

My love for this great institution has never been a secret.  Literally every time I'm on the campus, I have an overwhelming sense of pride.  My mind and heart are flooded with awesome memories such as cherished memories with my father watching some of the best Big Ten college basketball, and football too.  That's back in '67 when we went to the Rose Bowl, all that.  We'll get there again.  

Along with the eternal flame this university lit inside me to never stop learning of inspiring others, first and foremost, this afternoon I want to recognize some key associates that have played a huge role in this renovation project.  

President McRobbie, I want to thank you.  I respect and admire you more than you know.  

Thank you, Board of Trustees.  

I'd also like to mention the co-chair for his leadership and unwavering loyalty to this iconic masterpiece.  

And to Mr. Fred Glass and his entire athletic department, in particular Scott and Kelly, who held my hand through this process, thank you.  

I'm excited for you and with you as we begin this wonderful new exciting era of this hallowed arena.  This renovation was a group effort.  It's often said that it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, this beloved Hoosiers monument was literally raised by a large team of builders, tradesmen, architects, engineers, contractors and school staff.  

I'd like to thank the thinkers who envisioned every detail, and the doers who brought this to reality.  Of course, I was not alone in this endeavor.  I want to thank all the donors who contributed great amounts of money, thank you.  And more, we always want more.  Help IU athletics.  

With me today, I was surrounded by my friends and colleagues, but most importantly by my family.  To my husband Paul of almost 29 years, thank you for supporting my dreams and embracing this philanthropic path that we have embarked upon for so many years.  To Erik, Samantha and Ian, you have no idea what it means to me to have you here, and that you chose to graduate and attend IU.  I'm so proud of you and I love you.  Here is your legacy now.  Be good (laughter).  

Not long ago, I tried to compute the number of family members between the Skjodt and Simon families that have attended, graduated, and done graduate school.  I think there's like 24 members of our family, 24 Simons and Skjodts.  That's how much this university means to all of us.  But most importantly to me.  

Indulge me a minute while I boast.  I would like all of my IU family members, my family who have attended or gone to IU, please stand, and friends who I invited today who attended IU, please stand, too.  

I'm afraid to say that we're about done with this generation.  Elie is the last one who will graduate from IU.  But their grandchildren hopefully one day will have no choice.  

I've been fortunate enough to travel a lot of the globe.  It seems to me no matter where I go, someone is familiar with Indiana University.  The experience and education at this institution are unparalleled, not just for the student value incredible collegiate sports programs but also for the business leaders, along with entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers and athletes that called this place home, just like I did.  

It would be rude of me to leave out a few of my special people who really helped me through this process and held my hand through it, always kept us updated.  That would be Scott Dolson, Kelly Bomba, and Mr. Morrison.  These people showed us the way.  

I look forward to sitting in this iconic basketball hall for generations to come, sharing good times, winning seasons, and more memories.  And for my children and grandchildren, too.  

If we have any current players from the men's or women's basketball team in attendance, I can only go say to you, go girls, girl power, go Hoosiers, go guys.  Let's set new records, be the best athletes we can be, and let's make the opponents sweat.  

From the bottom of my heart, I guess I should say in closing, that my father was a great man, showed me the way for a lot of stuff, especially when it came to sports.  Dad, thank you.  

I just want to say one more thing, from the bottom of my heart.  I'm honored, Paul is honored, my family is honored.  But if you love this university, you have to give back.  Thank you. 

 

PRESIDENT McROBBIE: 

Thank you very much, Cindy, for those wonderful and clearly most heartfelt remarks.  

Our next speaker today has a long and distinguished history with Indiana University athletics.  Quinn Buckner is renowned for his athletic career, which included an NCAA championship as a member of IU's last undefeated men's basketball team.  In addition, Mr. Buckner was captain of the 1976 gold medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.  He played 10 years in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, where he won an NBA championship in 1984, and the Indiana Pacers.  He served as head coach for the Dallas Mavericks.  He's been a trustee of Indiana University since earlier this year.  Mr. Buckner is also vice president of communications for Pacers Sports and Entertainment.  

Please welcome to the podium, Quinn Buckner.  

W. QUINN BUCKNER:

Thank you very much.  

Ladies and gentlemen, you got to enjoy this.  I think everybody up here knows how I do these speeches or whatever.  This is a fantastic facility.  It was terrific in the days of old, if you will, where there was a lot of success had here.  Tom is bringing that back.  I'm also pleased for that.  

But Cindy, Paul, this is seriously sweet.  I can't say it any other way.  God bless you.  Thank you so much.  

My speech will be short.  On behalf of all the former players and the coaching staff, I cannot say enough about how proud I am to be a member of the IU family and part of Indiana athletics.  There have been some people that have been very dear to what we've been about here in the athletic program.  I stand before you humbled and speaking this way.  

Thank you so much for your support, but we need you to continue it. For those of you who have donated and helped this be such a beautiful facility, for all of us that have been here and played and cheered in the past, thank you so much.  

PRESIDENT McROBBIE:

Thank you very much, Quinn.  

Our next two speakers will discuss the many benefits that the renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall will bring to our men's and to our women's basketball programs.  

First we will hear from Teri Moren, head women's basketball coach.  She'll be followed by Tom Crean, head coach of men's basketball.  Each will speak without further introduction.  

Please welcome Coach Moren to the podium.  

TERI MOREN:

Good afternoon.  It's an absolute honor to be here representing Indiana University and our women's basketball program on this very historic occasion, an occasion that will have an immediate impact not only on our current athletes but our future athletes and the greatest fans in college basketball.  

Cindy, to your family, Paul, to your children, on behalf of our players and our staff, thank you for making this day possible.  

We are so proud and humbled to be able to share this iconic building with the passionate fans of Indiana, and for those other opponents that have to come in here and dread playing us.  

I cannot begin to explain what a thrill it is for my staff and I to walk down that candy-striped hallway and into Assembly Hall.  The faces, the looks on those prospects' faces, the faces on those parents are priceless, particularly to those fathers that have watched so many games on television.  To watch them in awe of this place, just to be on the floor of Assembly Hall, is something that is truly an experience for me.  

It's also an experience, a special moment, that I look forward to in the future in hopes that those prospects that we are sharing this building with will eventually become Hoosiers.  

I would like to take this opportunity to also thank the major donors, the Board of Trustees, President McRobbie, Fred Glass and his staff for the commitment to this project.  

To all of those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, thank you for your attention to detail and for completing this renovation in time for us to have a sensational season.  

There were a lot of early mornings, a lot of late nights.  We lived those moments with all of those workers.  We're so very pleased with this finished product.  

With the combination of Cook Hall and now Assembly Hall, we have one of the very, very best facilities in the country.  

So once again it is a true honor to be here.  We are so grateful for Cindy and your family, and for now this opportunity to play in one of the most famous arenas in the United States.  Thank you and go IU.  

TOM CREAN:

First and foremost, if you really look at the people that have helped build this, when you look at Paul and Cindy and their background, the entire Simon family, everybody else, Menkes, Henkes, the Nunns, list goes on and on.  What you find in a common thread is not only hard work but tenacity.  Not only success in the sense of what they've done, but even more success in what they've done to give back to others, and how many different people are served through that.  

Everybody comes from a different background.  But that is to me the common thread of everybody that's gotten involved in this.  Really we could go back to the Cook family and everybody that got involved in building Cook Hall.  It's the same thing.  They built their way up, all right?  They never took anything for granted and they shared it with others.  

I just want to add to what Teri said because I think it's so important that this is understood.  We had a bird's eye view, Teri's office, my office, the last 18 months, of what Tom Morrison, architects, I see Nate (Hill) and Jimmy (Jarvis) back there, the countless, countless workers that were employed to build this building.  

We think we work long hours as coaches.  Our players think they spend long hours in the gym.  We couldn't hold a candle to what those people have done over those last 18 months.  I'm talking about 6:30 in the morning on Sundays at times.  It was inspiring.  It was absolutely inspiring to watch it.  

I don't know very many of them by name, but I know them by the work they've done.  Now they're going to get to see this.  Because of what everybody has done, it's up here, out there, to enable this to come to life, with all the work that everybody at this university and everybody that's been contracted to do this, led by Fred (Glass), Scott (Dolson), Anthony (Thompson), Kelly (Bomba), everybody involved in it, I think they all deserve another round of applause because I cannot put it into words.  

Coaching is more than a profession, it's a labor of love.  I don't think there's any question that that is exactly what it's been in getting this building together.  I don't think there's any question that's how the people made their way to be able to give gifts like this.  

When we got here in 2008, briefly, inside of three months we learned quickly it was going to take quite a bit to return this to where it rightly belonged, the national distinction this belonged in.  There were a couple things we could hold our hats on.  The former players we would meet, the beautiful campus.  You would study and get to know what the educational value of this school was all about as an outsider coming into it.  Hoosier Nation fans, incredible.  The alums you would meet.  

But every day we got to walk into this building, every day.  Right upstairs we would walk in.  As we would go through those hard days, as we would start to really try to figure out what it was going to take for us to get this back where it has to be, I always say, pressure's not anything we deal with now, pressure is walking into Illinois or Purdue the first year with eight walk-ons.  That's pressure.  The rest we'll deal with.  

As Cook Hall started to be built, as they broke the ground for it, we recruited to two places.  We recruited out there walking around with the phone where people could hear the trucks and jackhammers and everything being built, because that was progress.  I would walk around this building, crazy as it sounds, walk on the court, it would inspire me.  There were no sounds because most of the time it was empty during that time of year.  That would inspire me on tradition.  That would inspire me and our coaching staff on what it meant to be here.  

There were many things along the way going on nine years that it's taken to get this program back where it belongs on both sides.  We're working tirelessly.  We're trying to do it the right way.

We work constantly at doing it the right way, just like everybody else at Indiana.  

In this college basketball world, college sports world, that's not easy.  You have to have things that drive you, motivate you, inspire you.  Sometimes it can be a building.  That is exactly what Assembly Hall has been as we've continued to recruit, as we've continued to watch these players grow, as we've continued to walk into this building on game night, or afternoon to practice, early morning for a workout, inspiring.  There's no building like it.  

Now we have this gift.  Now we have those 18 months that have been put into this building.  Now we have the dream that so many people had to take it up to another level.  Now we can't even fathom what it was like before compared to what it's going to be like moving forward.  

All the beneficiaries of it on this day.  We're all the beneficiaries of it, the players, coaches, staff, fans, the Hoosier Nation.

There are so many more people that are going to walk through these doors, so many more people that are going to come onto this campus.  Soon it will be thousands, then 10s of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then into the millions.  They're all going to see the finished product of what dreams, of what passion, of what tenacity, of what giving back turned over to people that were absolutely in a labor of love to make this the most iconic, the most standardized, but the most tradition-filled building in all of college sports.  

That is exactly where you're sitting or standing today.  That is exactly where we get to play our games and live our life moving forward.  That is exactly what so many recruits and people along the way get to be a part of.  This building will take a backseat to nobody's building, not only in this country, but in this world, in college sports!  

Thank you very much.  

PRESIDENT McROBBIE:

If that doesn't fire you up, nothing will (smiling).  

Now I'd like to introduce two of the student-athletes that our coaches have been responsible for coaching.  With us today are Tyra Buss and Robert Johnson.  

Tyra was two-time Ms. Basketball honoree, excelled in tennis, track and cross-country, at the same time graduating first in her high school class.  Last season she averaged roughly 19 points per game, five rebounds, and four assists.  

Mr. Johnson is a junior shooting guard, from Richmond, Virginia, where he was named the All-Metro Player of the Year by the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper.  In 2015/16, he played in 30 games, made 22 starts, averaging 8.1 points, and 3.3 rebounds.  

First, let’s welcome Ms. Tyra Buss.  

TYRA BUSS:

I'm truly honored to be here today to speak with you on behalf of the Indiana University women's basketball program.  It seems like just yesterday I was standing in Cook Hall at the groundbreaking ceremony and now here we are.  

As I look around, I can't seem to find the words that can adequately express how amazing this place is.  Indiana University has always been known as the best venue in college basketball.  Thanks to the generosity of so many, that experience will be preserved and even better than it has been.  

The experience of watching and playing a game here will be unlike anything else.  Of course, none of this would have been possible without the extraordinary gifts of Cindy Simon Skjodt, which in turn inspired others to follow her lead.  

Her generosity has been an inspiration to me and the women's basketball program.  It has not only inspired us to be better basketball players, but better people as well.  

It has taught us the importance of philanthropic work and has shown us that people believe in what we do and believe in this university.  It has helped us to continue to strive towards excellence, set our sights high.  It would be an honor if we were fortunate enough to be the first group to hang a banner in the newly renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  

At this time, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family for their generous contribution towards making this a dream venue to watch and play basketball.  I would also like to give a special thanks to all the other donors who have so generously contributed.  I'd like to give a shout out to all the individuals who had a vision and created the designs for this beautiful renovation and the hard-working men and women who used their hands to bring that vision to life.  

Finally, I would like to thank President McRobbie, athletic director Fred Glass, and the trustees for overseeing this project.  The generosity and hard work of these wonderful individuals will be felt and appreciated by student-athletes and fans for generations to come.  

On behalf of the women's basketball program, we are deeply grateful and we cannot wait to get on the hardwood and make a difference in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  Thank you.  

ROBERT JOHNSON:

On behalf of my teammates, I would like to say thank you to each of the generous donors who have made this day possible.  Thank you to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her entire family for their extremely generous donation to renovate the arena and preserve the best home-court advantage in college basketball.  

Cindy, whether we see you courtside, right behind the bench, or see you on the new Jumbotron, we know your gift has made the love for the two Indiana basketball programs.  I still remember you telling the story about how Indiana basketball meant a lot to you while you were growing up because you would come to the games with your dad.  Stories like that make our game days even more special when you think about how many memories are being made one fan at a time.  

Thank you for being that reminder to us.  

I'd like to thank President McRobbie, members of the Board of Trustees, and athletic director Fred Glass for making this a reality.  I would like to thank Coach Crean for giving me the opportunity to be a Hoosier.  

My teammates and I are honored to be a part of Indiana basketball history.  The home-court advantage will be even better now because everyone will want to come in and see the new newly renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  The new entryway is nicer than I would ever have imagined.  Walking up to the building, I feel as if I'm going into an NBA arena.  Hearing about the new cameras and all the additional technology that will set us apart makes it even better.  I know that these additions will make recruits even more excited to become a Hoosier.  

To all the people who made this renovation possible and all who are here to celebrate, I thank you very much.  It is going to be a great season.  We know we are very fortunate to play for a great school.  Thank you.  

PRESIDENT McROBBIE:

Thank you both.  You are clearly inspirations to your fellow student-athletes, fans and other students on the campus, as well.  

We now come to the central moment of the ceremony, the dedication of the renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  I ask trustee Jim Morris to join me at the podium and will Vice President Morrison please join us as well.  

JAMES MORRIS:

First let me say to Robert and Tyra, I'm prepared to welcome you to an NBA arena, a WNBA arena as well just up the street.  If the NBA still had territorial, geographical rights (for the NBA Draft) where you had a preference to student-athletes come play for you in the pros, if we had first call on all the IU athletes, we'd be one hell of an NBA basketball team.  

I know the Simon family well and for a long, long time.  Their generosity is genuine, extraordinary.  The family also once made a $40 million gift to Riley Children's Hospital for the Simon Family Tower.  Cindy is also chairman of the Indianapolis Foundation, which this year is celebrating their 100th anniversary.  An extraordinary legacy.  Families like the Simons and the Lilly’s and others clearly have made all the difference in the world in the quality of life in our city and our university and our state.  

Cindy, Paul, Sherry, Debbie, David, Herb, the whole group, there's just no way to adequately say thank you.  But we are profoundly grateful.  

You know how important this is because all nine trustees are here.  If there are any lawyers present, please protect us from having a quorum.  

If I may, I would like to invite two new wonderful trustees this year, including Quinn Buckner.  I'm going to ask Quinn to join me for this, if I can.  Michael went through his legacy of basketball, but he was also the first and only Indiana Hoosier to be taken into the Men's College Basketball Hall of Fame this year, with Melanie Walker, or new trustee from Bloomington, and Quinn, just extraordinary people, brilliant in their passion for the university.  But it would be inappropriate for me to do what I'm about to do without having Quinn standing by my side.   Quinn.  

So, Mr. President, thank you for your extraordinary leadership.  The university which you all love and are a part of is in such extraordinary condition.  The leadership is brilliant.  The quality of the programs extraordinary.  We celebrate this building today.  In doing so we acknowledge how important physical space is in bringing us together.  

But today Indiana University would have $2 billion of construction going on all across the state of Indiana.  And, as we've built new buildings, we've had this extraordinary respect and commitment to renovating all of our older buildings.  Not many places can say that they are doing that, doing it as well as we're doing it.  And by the bicentennial, we will have completely taken care of and funded all of our deferred maintenance which at one time was $1 billion.  In 2020 it should be zero.  A remarkable accomplishment.  

So, Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees of Indiana University, we take great pride and feel deep gratitude to Cindy, Paul, all of the donors, to the hundreds of thousands of donors we have that help us in more ways than you could ever imagine day in, day out, in presenting to you this symbolic key for the renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  

May this beautifully revitalized building open up a world of possibilities for our student-athletes, for everyone who is a part of the IU family and community, and for everyone who loves Hoosiers basketball.  

Mr. President, congratulations.  

PRESIDENT McROBBIE:

Thank you very much, Trustee Morris.  

Friends and colleagues, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University, it is truly a great honor to formally dedicate Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  I commend it as a place of monumental significance for everyone who is part of the Hoosier Nation.  May all who come here to work, to play, to compete, and to learn, to celebrate our legendary basketball traditions, bring even greater contributions to our university reflecting the ideals of its pioneer founders.  Please join me in celebrating the dedication of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with a round of applause.  Thank you.  

We now come to the end of this truly memorable and unforgettable occasion.  I'd like to thank everybody who has joined us for this joyous occasion.  I would especially like to thank the members of the dedication committee who worked so hard behind the scenes for today's event.  

In addition, I'd like to thank the members of the Jacobs School of Music jazz ensemble.  

Our two student-athletes will lead us in song.  


Peegs.com Top Stories