IU Director of Athletics Fred Glass relieved Tom Crean of his duties Thursday after Crean spent nine seasons at the helm of IU men's basketball.
This comes on the heels of a season where IU missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years.
Crean departs Bloomington with three Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Big Ten titles, but his other teams struggled with erratic play, and he failed to make the NCAA Tournament five times in nine years.
At a press conference to announce Crean's firing Thursday, Glass said his decision was primarily performance-based.
“There’s nothing more to this than my belief in the future of the program based upon what I think ultimately was inconstant athletic performance, if you will,” Glass said. “There’s no other issues.”
Crean arrived in 2008 when IU was mired in scandals and sanctions after the departure of former coach Kelvin Sampson. In his first three seasons, Crean went 28-66, but on Thursday Glass called the rebuilding job by Crean a “Herculean effort."
After those three seasons, Crean took IU to two consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2012 and 2013, but in the four seasons that followed, IU missed the tournament twice and did not make it past the Sweet Sixteen.
Glass said he came to the decision after careful consideration following IU’s season-ending loss to Georgia Tech in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday. He said his decision was made Wednesday night based on the entirety of Crean’s tenure.
“Last night, after I had a chance to really absorb and consider everything and feeling the decision needed to be made,” he said. “I felt like it would be bad for everybody to leave him twisting in the wind even though you always want a few more days.”
Crean had three years left on his contract. Glass said he had three options available: He could extend Crean and give him a vote of confidence with that action, let him coach next season with no extension, or fire him. Glass chose the third option.
“I concluded that the extension wasn’t something that I was prepared to do because even though we have had success, I just think between and within seasons, it just has been too inconsistent for our expectations,” Glass said.
Glass said Crean was willing to coach next season without an extension and bet on himself, but Glass wasn’t comfortable going forward with that course of action because of how hard it would have been on the program.
Crean will be paid the full $4 million, paid out over time, that he was due based on his contract. If he gets another job as a head coach or in media, there is offset language in his contract that would mitigate the payment on IU's end. If Crean gets another head coaching job or a job in the media, the money he earns from that would be subtracted from the amount IU owes him.
It was never about the buyout for Glass, though, because he said the high buyout in previous years was not the reason why Crean still was the head coach.
“He was here because I wanted him to be here and now he’s not here for the converse reason, not because the buyout is in one place, or another,” Glass said.
After the loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament last week, the Hoosier players voiced their support for Crean.
“We feel that he is the best fit for us,” sophomore forward Juwan Morgan said. “He instills so many things in us. He’s brought so many things to the table. In each and every one of us, he’s brought out things that we couldn’t do before.”
While the players loved their coach, Glass said he wants to bring championships to IU and thought it was in the best interest of the program long-term to move on from Crean.
“This was a decision I made not because it was popular because popular tends to change,” Glass said. “But it was the decision I thought I needed to make because it was right because right tends not to change.”
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