IU AD Fred Glass: NIT Hosting Decision Not Made Overnight
There were both pros and cons to Indiana hosting a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) game over spring break week in Bloomington, according to IU Athletics Director Fred Glass.
Glass understands the criticism the program is facing over the decision. However, he wanted to make it clear it wasn't one that was made overnight, instead one that had to be made based on deadlines faced during the season.
"The process is not as linear as people might think," Glass said during an appearance on the Kent Sterling Show on CBS Sports 1430 AM in Indianapolis.
Indiana had to declare its attentions at the beginning of last week at the latest.
In mid-February, IU received an NIT-specific contract which had to return by March 6. Thus, the decision of whether to host over spring break week had to be made well within a two-week time frame and well before Sunday night's selection show.
This decision also was not made alone, according to Glass. A group of administrative staffers plus a group of staffers from the men's basketball program weighed the pros and cons of the decision.
Glass The biggest con and primary decision to not host was the fact that IU students would be out of down. The secondary reason was because many primary school students and their families in Bloomington are also out of town.
"People in Indianapolis may not realize that in Bloomington, everybody leaves during spring break week, including all the schools and the families and so forth," Glass said.
The optics of an empty assembly hall also weighed on the minds of both groups.
"We have the largest student section in college basketball, and when you don't have that at a men's basketball game, it really adversely impacts the environment," Glass said. "I think the feeling of the group making the recommendation was, it didn't put our best foot forward to have an Assembly Hall that would be shadow of its normal self."
Glass later added: "Assembly Hall is iconic. You've got to be careful not to devalue it."
During the selection show, ESPNU host Matt Schick said IU decided against hosting an NIT game this week because of renovations to Assembly Hall.
Glass said that had nothing to do with the decision, and he had "no idea" where that came from.
"I about swallowed my tongue on that, because we never said that to anybody," Glass said. "I think they just speculated that, given that there have been recent renovations. I couldn't call [IU Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications and Fan Experience] Jeremy Gray quick enough to say, 'hey, we need to make sure what the real reason is, because that's not it and we never told anybody that.'"
Indiana last hosted an NIT game in 2005, when it opened the event against Vanderbilt at Assembly Hall.
Glass was not a part of the IU athletics administration at that time, but was told by those with the department at the time that the low attendance looked bad.
"You want it to be the best it can be, and when you're wiping out all your students plus a lot of normal fan base, the concern was that wouldn't be good," Glass said.
Glass said understands the disagreement fans, season ticket-holders and others have expressed about the decision, but believes Indiana still would've received just as much criticism for the decision to host a game with students and locals out of town.
"It doesn't take too much imagination to think somebody would appropriately say, had we decided to play here, 'well look, you big idiot, why are you playing this game spring break week when nobody's here? You're setting up Tom, you're setting up the team, you're making us look bad,'" Glass said.
Glass said the decision was a close one, again bringing up the pros and cons.
He also indicated that, should Indiana advance and have the opportunity to host, it would do so. The final day of the second round of the NIT falls on March 20, the day IU students return from spring break and resume classes.
But come Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET, Indiana will in Atlanta rather than Bloomington for postseason play. And that decision was final two weeks ago.
"For better or worse," Glass said, "that's what we decided on."
You can listen to Glass' full interview on the Kent Sterling Show here.