Bloomington – Now might be a good time for IU basketball fans to hit the panic button…again.
On Monday, the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana University had tacked two years onto Tom Crean's basketball coaching contract. The terms of the extension have not been made public, but those two years have been added to the original eight-year, $18.24 million deal he signed in April, meaning he's now under contract through the 2018-19 season.
News of this deal brings two words to mind.
Don't get me wrong - it's not that the thought of Crean overseeing the basketball program for the next decade is a bad thing. To the contrary, his arrival has generated the kind of buzz among fans and recruits that's remarkable considering the damage Kelvin Sampson did in his two years. He's done a commendable job picking through the recruiting leftovers to even field a team for this season, and his 2009 class already includes three players ranked in the top 100 nationally.
He's undoubtedly been a beacon of light as IU tries to navigate through one of the darkest periods of its basketball program's history.
BUT…as admirable as Crean's efforts have been during the last four months, coaches don't usually get extensions without having coached a single game, especially at a program like Indiana.
No, IU's decision to give Crean a couple more years on his deal suggests there could be (more) bad news coming, possibly delivered by the NCAA.
A postseason ban for the IU basketball program might soon be a reality.
As improbable as that might have seemed to some (myself included) when news of the violations first came to light last year, it's the only thing that makes this contract extension make sense.
Remember, it was just three years ago that Ohio State gave then first-year coach Thad Matta a one-year contract extension on the same day the university announced it was slapping itself with a one-year postseason ban for the NCAA rules violations committed by Jim O'Brien's staff. Matta had only coached the first handful of games during his inaugural season in Columbus, but adding a year seemed like the right thing to do since there was no postseason ban in place when he left Xavier to take over the OSU program.
Now, Indiana might be following a similar course of action.
Mind you, Indiana hasn't announced any additional self-imposed sanctions, and the NCAA hasn't revealed any timetables for announcing its ruling on the Indiana case. This could be nothing more than IU's way of giving Crean a little something extra for making him go along for this tumultuous ride that's already included an appearance before the Infractions Committee and the resignation of the man who hired him.
Sure, that's possible, and maybe even deserved considering the turmoil Crean has had to deal with in recent months.
Let's hope there's nothing more to this story.
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