Column: This year's fall sports teams fitting into IU motto
It was Monday and the clock was approaching 11 p.m. when my cell phone rang with the caller ID showing Fred Glass.
Yes, I had contacted the IU athletics director earlier in the day, but in no way did I expect him to call back at an hour when most everyone had called it quits on the work day hours ago.
Instead, there was Glass sitting in his office at the Memorial Stadium North End Zone facility talking to me about his mission as IU athletics director.
The mission is simple: “24 sports, One team.”
When Glass was named athletic director two years ago, he brought with him the vision of “24 sports, One team” and has seen it firsthand at IU.
“It is something that we want to instill in our athletic staff in a very focused and deliberate way,” Glass said. “I think it’s something that distinguishes us from other schools around the country and in particular in the Big Ten.”
Glass said when creating the idea of “24 sports, One team” he brought in coaches, faculty and student athletes to help him form what IU athletics are all about.
The four main parts of the creed are to play by the rules, achieve academically, excel athletically and integrate with the university and the broader community.
“We try to build those traits in the student athletes that come our way,” Glass said. “The traits can be seen on the back of our business cards, on the back of the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium, in every coach’s office and in every team room.
“This is not some campaign for nine or ten sports, this is something that will capture what we are about, and I hope will be the hallmark of my time here.”
The most important reason that the “24 sports, One team” mantra is unique to IU, is from a financial standpoint.
The unification of Hoosier athletic teams from water polo to baseball is something that has to be instilled into an athletic department that is not funded anywhere near the amount of other Big Ten schools.
IU ranks last in the Big Ten in terms of athletic budgets for public universities and that statistic relates directly to the attendance at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays in fall.
Memorial Stadium sits 52,929 and the Michigan game this season that sold out was the only contest that IU came within 9,000 seats of filling the stadium.
Glass reiterated the point that for the athletic budget to move up the ladder within the Big Ten more people have to attend football games.
Ohio State and Michigan are ranked first and third respectively in terms of highest athletic budgets nationally and each fills the 100,000 plus seats in the football stadiums on a weekly basis.
Despite the low financial numbers, Glass is not looking for any pity when it comes to the on-field effort from the Hoosiers.
“We take the backseat to nobody, and we are not apologists for where we rank resource-wise,” Glass said. “Bloomington is a quintessential college town with the most beautiful college campus in the country and we have fabulous academics.”
This fall season has seen numerous athletic teams fall into the category of championship worthy.
IU cross-country coach Ron Helmer and his team placed second in the Big Ten Championships, its best finish since 2004 and have been ranked in or near the nation’s top 10 all season.
The University Gym has been erupting this fall as the IU volleyball team has a 9-1 record in the arena and knocked off Penn State for the first time in 40 matches.
Coaching on the field bearing his last name, Todd Yeagley and the IU men’s soccer team won the Big Ten Conference regular season and are primed for a deep tournament run in the coming weeks.
“One of our top four priorities is to be excellent athletically, and we define that by winning championships,” Glass said. “That’s what we are about and that’s what we are after. We are competitive and we are out to win championships.”
The fall sports are just a small indication of the depth that this athletic department will continue to show in the future.
Glass has realized there is no 100,000-seat stadium in the future, but that doesn’t mean the hard work and spirit of Indiana can’t lead to athletic success.
“24 sports, One team.”
24 national championships and counting.
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