Improving training and playing facilities for Indiana University sports has been a major focus for Fred Glass in his five years as the Hoosiers athletics director.
While construction of the North End Zone Student-Athlete Development Center at Memorial Stadium already had started when Glass took over in Oct. 2008, it was completed under his watch. It’s a prime example of how an older facility like Memorial (opened in 1960) can be transformed in stunning fashion with a well designed addition and some fresh coats of paint.
Glass has a similar vision for Assembly Hall, IU’s basketball home since 1971.
While the board of trustees has favored construction of a new basketball arena at some point in the future, Glass doesn’t believe that’s the right approach.
“I’m not in favor of a new Assembly Hall, if you will, because it would just be so expensive to build. I think it would suck the oxygen out of everything else we are trying to do. I think a new building like that would cost $300 million and that’s a heck of a lot of money to try to raise, especially when we have other obligations, responsibilities and considerations.
“Even if it was affordable, I’m not sure it’s desirable. We have a great one-two punch with Cook Hall as a development facility that has all the bells and whistles that our perspective student-athletes, our existing student-athletes and our coaching staff want.”
Glass would prefer to have Assembly Hall receive some badly needed cosmetic changes — updated bathrooms and concessions, televisions in the concourse area, fresh paint, etc. He also wants to explore making an addition to Assembly Hall that would create an expanded plaza area for fans to gather.
“I know Assembly Hall has some weird elements to it, but it’s unique,” said Glass. “I worry if you build a new building if it would just seem cookie-cutter like every other arena that is being build these days.”
Under Glass’ leadership, IU has built a new baseball stadium — one that hosted an NCAA regional last spring — as well as a new softball stadium, a new track and a new building for the golf program.
“We’ve been making investments in all of our programs all across the board and quite frankly I think that’s why we are seeing more success too.”
During the 2012-13 academic year, IU finished tied for second with Texas A&M in the Capital One College Cup Standings behind UCLA.
“It was great because we had some milestones last year that really helped demonstrate progress, both internally and externally,” said Glass. “Nothing succeeds like success. Coming in second in the Capital One Cup for men, I don’t like to tout being second in anything, but that’s a big deal to have the second-ranked program in the country.
“The national championship in men’s soccer was great as was going to the first College World Series in Indiana history, and being the first Big Ten team to go to the College World Series since 1984 — that’s a big deal.”
But it all comes back to basketball at IU, and Glass knows that.
“I feel like it wasn’t that long ago when we were perennially in the NCAA (tournament) and challenging for Big Ten championships in men’s basketball,” said Glass. “It’s a little surprising when you look back and see that last season was our first outright Big Ten basketball championship since 1993 and it was our first back-to-back Sweet 16s since 1994.
“So basketball is back. Our core teams have qualified for postseason play — more teams are finishing in the top 15, so there’s a lot of momentum across our athletic department and we’re not satisfied. We’re looking to build on that base and have even bigger and better achievements this year.”