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Monday, June 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Metal fascia falls in Assembly Hall

Assembly Hall Broken

Almost as soon as planning for Assembly Hall’s upcoming renovations began, a piece of the 42-year-old building fell from the ceiling.

IU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass and other IU officials had just started their first meeting regarding the $40 million renovation project when a piece of metal weighing about 50 pounds fell from the ceiling and into the building’s lower bowl of seating.

Pressure from an accumulation of snow and ice on the building’s roof caused a piece of steel plating, which runs at each of the four corners with a slight curve, to pop loose and fall.

“It was ironic that I was in Assembly Hall when this happened today, because our very first kick-off meeting of the renovation team of the new Assembly Hall ... was together in Assembly Hall,” Glass said. “Shortly after that meeting started, a couple of our facilities folks were called out of that meeting because of something that apparently happened in the bowl.”

Glass said he went to see for himself what had happened shortly after those members of the facilities staff left the meeting, and discovered the extent of what had
happened.

IU Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison said his team’s preliminary reports determined the building’s structural integrity has not been compromised. This was solely weather-related, he said.

“The engineers gave me the point that it is not critical,” Morrison said. “It appears to be an isolated case to those areas where the roof meets or the ceiling meets the wall.”
Nobody was present in the lower bowl at the time, and the damage was limited to five seats in Section F. IU officials have yet to assess what the damages and repairs will cost.

“The glass is half-full because nobody got hurt,” Glass said. “All this other stuff is manageable and thank God we’re not here talking about a really serious situation. So if it had to happen, I’m glad it happened the way it did.”

He said he didn’t feel this incident would set back IU’s planned renovations to Assembly Hall, scheduled to be finished in 2016.

 “(It) underscores the value of even more detailed structural review,” he said.

The framing, a piece of metal measuring approximately 8 feet long and 14 inches wide, fell at around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, six and a half hours before IU was scheduled to tip off its Big Ten clash with No. 15 Iowa.

An IU Athletics statement released at 4:02 p.m. announced the game had been postponed and that both schools’ athletic departments were working to reschedule as soon as possible.

Glass said he and his facilities team made the decision to postpone the game around 3:30 p.m., and he credited the presence of key decision-makers at the renovations meeting for the quick decision.

“It was fortunate and lucky, a matter of happenstance, that this group of people were in Assembly Hall, because I think it really made the assessment and the decision-making go much quicker than it otherwise would have,” he said.

The men’s basketball team was undergoing preparations for the Iowa game when the cancellation was announced.

IU Coach Tom Crean said his team was preparing for its final walkthrough when he received a message from Glass.

“I was behind closed doors, we were getting ready for our walkthrough and what we wanted to accomplish there, and I didn’t have my phone with me at first,” Crean said. “When I got my phone, I responded to Fred’s voicemail and text right away and literally dropped what we were doing and got to the gym as quick as possible.”

When it was determined that safety concerns would prevent Tuesday’s game from taking place, Glass began looking at other sites. IU trustee and President of Pacers Sports and Entertainment Jim Morris offered the Pacers’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse as an alternative location, but Glass determined the logistical demand of moving the game to Indianapolis on short notice would be too great.

“We concluded logistically that’s not anything we could put together on 24 or 48 hours notice,” Glass said. “Because of the uncertainty of returning to Assembly Hall and the logistical challenges of playing in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, we respectfully declined the Pacers’ offer — but we appreciate it very much.”

Big Ten rules dictate in the event of a game’s postponement, the two schools have 72 hours to reach an agreement on its rescheduling.

After that period expires, the conference will step in and choose a date.

Currently, IU is scheduled to play five games between Feb. 22 and March 8.

Its longest gap between games before the end of the season comes between Feb. 25 and March 2, a five-day stretch.

Crean, who said he could remember only one other game in his coaching career being postponed, said he will work to keep basketball in perspective but will have his team ready whenever the decision is made.

“The bottom line is you adjust, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “Our guys were extremely ready to play in that sense, to be where we needed to be to have that mindset going into the game tonight. I’m disappointed we didn’t get to do that, but that pales in comparison to what any of us would have felt like at 9:30, 10 tonight if something would have happened inside that building, and that’s exactly how I said it to the players after practice.

“I mean, you have to keep something like this in absolute perspective while you’re making your adjustments and contingency plans ahead. It’s all part of the resiliency. Just go do what you have to do when it’s time to do it.”

Follow reporter Alden Woods on Twitter @acw9293. 

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