IU donor Bart Kaufman shares thoughts in wake of Crean firing


Bart Kaufman shakes the hand of an IU player before a 2013 IU baseball game at Bart Kaufman Field. Kaufman has been a longtime donor for IU Athletics and said he agreed with Athletics Director Fred Glass' decision to let former head coach Tom Crean go. Ben Mikesell Buy Photos

Bart Kaufman, CEO of Kaufman Financial Group, is a longtime donor for IU Athletics and was one of many boosters who grew restless with the recent direction of the IU basketball program.

He contributed a significant gift to the IU baseball program in 2012 and was honored by IU Athletics adding his name to the brand new Bart Kaufman Field.

Harboring no animosity toward former IU Coach Tom Crean, Kaufman said he respects the type of man Crean is but thought it was time for a change to be made.

“But clearly from the standpoint of being enough time, I think nine years was a fair test,” Kaufman said. “I think the biggest concern that I had was — as any other fans — was the inconsistencies in his program where he was not able to maintain sustained 

He said he was disappointed that none of the top recruits from the state of Indiana chose to sign with IU. Most notably in the 2017 class, Crean lost out on top talents Kris Wilkes and Paul Scruggs, both of whom grew up in Indiana but will leave the state to play college ball at UCLA and Xavier, respectively. Kaufman characterized the program as being on a downslope compared to other schools.

“Clearly, when they lose like they did this year — yeah, I’m disappointed,” Kaufman said. “My concern was the kids didn’t seem to get any better, and he didn’t have kids coming in.”

Kaufman said he believes no one was pressuring Glass to make the decision but did say there was a growing sense of apathy among the biggest program donors.

“I think Fred made the decision based on his analysis that they weren’t going anywhere and his job was to do a good job for the athletic department and the University,” Glass said. “But donor pressure in this situation at IU is silly to me. I don’t know anybody that says, ‘I’m not giving money to the law school because your basketball team sucks.’”

Kaufman said this coaching hire will affect the legacy of Glass and emphasized how important the decision was.

“Fred gets paid big bucks because he has a very big job,” Kaufman said. “This is his last big hire, and he wants to get it right. He’s very dedicated and very 
loyal to IU.”

One area that concerned Kaufman was the hiring of the Parker Search Firm to assist Glass. He was wary of the group having a say in the hiring because he said it has zero connection to IU and does not have to be loyal to the University.

Kaufman said he urges IU to talk with former players, such as Quinn Buckner, who is a trustee of the University; Isiah Thomas; Mike Woodson; and others to help make the decision because of their basketball knowledge and ties to the program.

While Kaufman was disappointed in the direction of the program under Crean, he said he believes in Glass’ ability to hire the right coach.

“This is Fred’s moment to shine,” Kaufman said.

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