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McRobbie makes the right hire for University in Glass

POSTED AT 12:13 AM ON Oct. 29, 2008 

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The hiring of incoming Director of Athletics Fred Glass came as a surprise to many Hoosier fans, as the Indianapolis attorney has had no previous experience working for an intercollegiate athletics department.

The safe hire for committee and IU President Michael McRobbie would have been an established athletics director like Oregon State’s Bob De Carolis, one of the three reported finalists.

But in Glass, the University found a proven problem solver and fundraiser – two characteristics the athletics department desperately needs in its leader.

This outside-the-box thinking again shows why McRobbie is a perfect fit to lead IU.
I was initially disappointed in this hiring because I thought De Carolis should have been the man for the job.

De Carolis has done great things at Oregon State from improving the football and baseball teams, upgrading the athletics facilities and making a savvy hire of new men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson, better known as Barack Obama’s brother-in-law.

I have no doubt De Carolis would have been successful at IU, but at this challenging and important time for the athletic department, Glass brings rare skills that separated him from De Carolis and the other candidate, Scott Dolson.

When asked what type of people he would bring into the department, Glass said he “drafts for talent, not position.” That was exactly the thought process McRobbie and the search committee must have used when selecting Glass.

He has never held a position in an athletics department, but Glass has shown he has many talents through his work as a lawyer at Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels, political staff member and public servant.

Glass has found success in every step of his professional life, but no job has required his talent more than the athletics director position at IU.

On Jan. 2, 2009, Glass will inherit a department in transition and a fan base desperate for continuity and success. The two most prominent sports – football and men’s basketball – are likely to have losing seasons, and plenty of unanswered questions surround the programs.

Some fans are calling for the firing of football coach Bill Lynch, but it is highly unlikely Glass will let Lynch go just one season after the coach led the Hoosiers to a bowl game and one of the best recruiting classes IU has seen in years.

The incoming director said the right things about compliance and student achievement being his top goals. However, with one notable exception, the athletic department has been excellent at both compliance and student achievement. Increasing football revenue has to be priority No. 1 in the new administration.
There is some work to be done with basketball, as the NCAA’s infraction ruling is still forthcoming, but men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has the program up and running.

Glass’ biggest contribution might be the building of a new basketball arena, something Glass said at his introductory press conference is not in his plans for the short term.

Glass’ profile on the Baker & Daniels Web site says he “works with his clients to seize opportunities and solve problems.”

As a lifelong Hoosier fan, the athletics department will be the most important client with which Glass ever works.

If he can show the same skill in decision making, coalition forming and problem solving as in his previous jobs, Glass will be a great hire for IU.

 

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