In one of his final acts as IU athletic director, Fred Glass offered a sense of stability to Hoosier athletes amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Glass, whose final day as athletic director was June 30, sent an email Tuesday to all student-athletes ensuring that their scholarship would remain even if they felt uncomfortable participating in team activities due the threat of contracting coronavirus.
“This is your decision based on medical considerations,” Glass said in an email. “If after discussing your concerns with the Chief Medical Officer you do not want to participate in intercollegiate athletics, we will still honor your scholarship.”
Glass also reiterated the unavoidable safety hazards of coming back to campus and practicing again. Football and men’s and women’s basketball are already in Bloomington for voluntary workouts. He also reminded athletes that precautions such as social distancing, undergoing a “pre-participation” screening and signing an expectations pledge were put into place to safeguard everyone's health.
There have been concerns that college athletes are being thrown into dangerous conditions for early season workouts. Clemson University’s football team registered a total of 37 cases, while the University of Texas' football team recorded 13 positive tests.
While professional athletes have leverage to bargain with their franchise's executives, college athletes don't have that same luxury.
With the return of the NBA nearing, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley is choosing to sit out the remainder of the season to protect the well-being of his son. Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein, whose partner is expecting a child in July, came to a similar conclusion.
On the other hand, college athletes don't necessarily have a steady income or loaded bank account to fall back on, leaving them more vulnerable to decisions made by university administrators.
In his last day on the job, Glass made an effort to aid athletes once again, promising to come through on their scholarships through a time of uneasiness.
With the message, Glass’ tenure at IU came to a close. Since his introduction as athletic director in 2009, the Hoosiers have tallied 25 team and 210 individual Big Ten titles. In addition, 46 athletes collected Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors, while 537 were named All-Americans.
The facilities at IU also improved under Glass. Memorial Stadium underwent a $48 million renovation to institute the Excellence Academy. Assembly Hall was given $45 million worth of improvements. Wilkinson Hall, a new 3,000-seat facility solely for the wrestling and volleyball programs, was constructed. More recently, the 265-acre Pfau golf course with a driving range and practice area opened June 15.
Off of the field, the IU graduation success rate rose from 77% to 91%. Glass also introduced the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, which set guidelines to support a beneficial experience for athletes on and off of the field, and the Sexual Violence Disqualification Policy, which banned athletes that have a background of sexual violence.
A lengthy list of IU’s current coaches were given an opportunity in Bloomington because of Glass: men’s tennis coach Jeremy Wurtzman, baseball coach Jeff Mercer, football coach Tom Allen, women’s soccer coach Erwin Van Bennekom, volleyball coach Steve Aird, softball coach Shonda Stanton, wrestling coach Angel Escobedo, men’s basketball coach Archie Miller and women’s basketball coach Teri Moren.
A nine minute video including appearances from former players was released Tuesday morning on social media to commemorate Glass’ time with the Hoosiers.
Coaches also went on social media to express their gratitude for their boss.
Escobedo, who is entering his third year as the head wrestling coach for the Hoosiers, shared a special memory of Glass.
Escobedo captured a national championship at IU in his sophomore year and is the program’s only four-time All-American. After Escobedo closed out his collegiate wrestling career in 2010, he received a personal letter from Glass.
“It has been incredible to witness your dedication and commitment this year,” Glass said in the typed message. “You leave Indiana University as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of our program. Your success is a great source of pride to Indiana University.”
Across from his signature, Glass penned a handwritten note: “We are very proud of you!” it read. The “very” was underlined.
Eight years later, Glass hired Escobedo as the head wrestling coach.
Succeeding Glass' nearly 12-year stretch as athletic director is Scott Dolson, who officially took over July 1. In a time where sports aren’t guaranteed anymore, the Hoosier programs are enduring another shift with Glass' retirement.
Among the changes, there will be constants: Wurtzman, Mercer, Allen, Van Bennekom, Aird, Stanton, Escobedo, Miller and Moren.
The group will continue into the uncharted fall semester. And as July 1 hits, for the first time, it will be without Glass' guidance.