The ribbon is cut and one major facility upgrade complete. Memorial Stadium is one of the many projects IU athletic director and vice president Fred Glass has in the works at the IU athletic department.
“We’re going all around the country to look at schools that represent themselves, have the best celebration of their college sport, whether it’s North Carolina basketball or Florida football and we want to be the best. We want to be the new standard.”
The new north end zone boasts the largest athletic weight and conditioning center in the nation, plush athletic offices with outdoor concourses overlooking the field and a Hall of Champions reception and museum center perched up between the glass towers.
After further renovation of the existing stadium this spring, a new three million dollar academic center will serve more than 630 student athletes each year.
“We’re going to go from the smallest academic center by some measure to the the 4th largest in the Big Ten,” says Glass. “That cuts across all of our sports, that attracts student athletes, that enables us to coach students up not just in sports, but academics.”
Across the parking lot, the new Basketball Development Center is scheduled to open in March. Chuck Crabb is the associate athletic director overseeing facilities.
“We actually have two basketball courts in the building. The north half is for the men and the south half is for the women. The total building square footage is approximately 70,000 square feet.”
The new facility will give both the men’s and women’s squads their own state-of-the-art venue to practice, train and condition without scheduling hassles of sharing one court in Assembly Hall.
“When a student athlete has to go through the scheduling situation to take it account say a twelve noon till 3pm practice period, that is really cutting into the heart of what for academia is a very prime schedule time for classes that might apply to that young man or woman’s major.”
Legacy Court will give fans a chance to re-live IU basketball memories while overlooking the practice courts.
“It’s certainly something that is going to put us on an equal footing with other Big 10 schools. There is a bit of a wow factor.”
Another project expected to be completed by Thanksgiving is the re-surfacing of the outdoor track. When completed, it will give IU the best dual track facility in the country.
But amid the national championship banners of Assembly Hall and the Counsilman-Billingsley Center, it’s raining on the parade – literally.
“There are fans that would tell you they get rained on during a basketball game in the Assembly Hall,” says Crabb.
Assembly Hall has about 4 acres of a rubber membrane roof that needs replaced.
“It’s a pretty good sized bath tub. We have 8 drains that take care of it but you’re talking about a pretty substantial catch basin. This is the second roof the building has had and we’ve had a new roof designed. Depending on what process we use, it would run probably $1.2 to $2 million to replace.”
The aquatic center has a leaky roof too, but even more alarming are the touch pads used to score timing are losing the ability to record times.
“We have one land that wouldn’t time at all. There are college coaches who have shared now with Coach (Ray) Looze, we won’t come back to your pool in Bloomington until you have a timing system that is what all of us are used to seeing with swimming.”
“That’s ridiculous,” says Glass. “At a university that has the number of Big Ten Championships, the number of National Championships we have, the great caliber of coaches, we have the desire to regain that primary status of a swimming and diving power.”
IU baseball and softball facilities are also lagging in the Big Ten.
“Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd … There’s not that feeling.” Crabb says the facility lacks club houses and indoor areas that could be used during off-season.
“So much can be accomplished in that period from Thanksgiving until the first game is played at the end of February in batting cages. So they want to have those amenities, those opportunities. They’re being offered at other institutions.”
The question is how to fund these improvements to the point they are not just maintained, but the best in the country.
“On a per sport basis, we are second from the bottom in terms of how much money we spend as a department,” says Glass. “It’s because of the environment economically. Now how do you fix that, one way is to fill the football stadium.”
“When people say, you seem to be spending a lot of money on football, I plead guilty to that not only because it’s important to football, but because it’s important for the rest of our programs.”
Glass works with a budget that is all his own. Income is earned through ticket sales, sponsorships or they ask for it from donors. “There’s no general education money, there’s no General Assembly money.”
Or they get it from TV and radio revenue. Glass says The Big Ten Network has been a critical source of funding, contributing an extra nine million dollars a year since the network began.
“If I can be close on facilities, I’ll beat you on Bloomington, the quintessential college town. I’ll beat you on the IU campus, the most beautiful in the Big Ten I’m sure and maybe one of the most beautiful in the country. I’ll beat you with the Kelley School. I’ll beat you with the Jacobs School. If I can get close on facilities with the coaches and advantage of Indiana University … I’ll be able to beat you.”