Earlier this month we wrote about how Indiana was at a crossroads due to an inconsistent men's basketball program (column link). Today that belief was the main reason cited by Director of Athletics Fred Glass as to the decision to remove Tom Crean as the program's head basketball coach.
"There's nothing more to this than my belief in the future of the program based on what I consider inconsistent athletic performance," Glass said. "There's no other issues."
This year's 18-16 season and first round NIT exit this week obviously didn't help but was not overvalued.
"This was a disappointing year but the year before was a really strong year," Glass said. "This year wasn't a disproportionate part of my evaluation but a part of the whole time that Tom has been here."
Contract led to three decision paths
What wasn't helping Crean's case was his contract end was in 2020 and close enough to be a factor in the decision. Recruit's looking at a four year college career could obviously take that into account.
That led to three choices in the A.D.'s mind.
"Three years left of his contract. At this point in time I either needed to extend his contract and give him a vote of confidence that he needed with actions, not words--with an extension. Be prepared to let him go forward without an extension. Or make a change.
"I concluded the extension wasn't something I was prepared to do because even though we have had success, I just think both between and within seasons, it's just been too inconsistent for our expectations.
"It was very tempting to go with the second option of allowing him to go forward without the extension and to his great credit, he was willing to do that, which would have been a very hard thing to do.
"In the final analysis I wasn't very comfortable going forward with that given that he only had three years left and I had publicly not given him an extension--I think he would have been on the hot seat from day one. Every ebb and flow of the season, which happens to every program, would have been blown out of proportion and everybody would have said, 'is this it? Is he going to get fired early or is he going to make it to the end of the year?'"
"I thought that would be too hard on the program to be a justifiable option. So that was my analysis and why I ended up at door No. 3."
Buyout a non-issue
Glass said the buyout was not a road block. Crean's contract says a firing this year means a $4 million payout that is paid out the remainder of the contract and "mitigated" by earnings over that period.
"I didn't go to Purdue but that is about $1.3 million a year if my math is close. On a $100 million dollar budget, we can commit to that and the big thing that often gets left off is the contract calls for mitigation set off. If he gets a comparable job in professional basketball, college basketball or as a media personality, that money gets set off dollar for dollar with what we owe him.
"If he gets another coaching job, we'll probably not owe him anything. The buyout was always a non-issue."
While many claimed a change was inevitable, Glass says the decision was made after the season.
"We talk almost every day," Glass said. "Sometimes by text. But we had two specific conversations about the future and what I saw as my options going forward. They were very positive and he was very relaxed and non-defensive. I really appreciated those conversations a great deal.
"Last night after I had a real chance to absorb and consider everything I had the feeling that the decision had to be made. I felt it would be bad for everybody to leave him twisting even though you always want a few more days."
"I thought it (decision) had to be made and that is why I made it last night and communicated that to Tom this morning and here we are."
Glass listened to alums and fans but insisted it was his decision in the end.
"I read very signed email or letter than I am sent. I talk to fans a lot, feel like I am fairly accessible. I certainly understand the frustration.
The frustration may have been universal but in my view the opposition to Tom was not. I think it is easy to fall into the trap when you listen to talk radio and reading message boards. The people that are against tend to be the louder."
"This a decision I made not because it was it was popular, because popular tends to change, but it was the decision I thought I needed to make because it was right. Because right tends not to change."
Full press conference video
Full video of the press conference via the Big Ten Network.