After IU men’s basketball’s loss to Rutgers in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, IU Athletics Director Scott Dolson said he spent a lot of time trying to come to a decision about head coach Archie Miller’s future with the program.
The Hoosiers lost their final six games of the season and finished with a record of 12-15, their first losing season since 2010-11.
“I spent a great deal of time, a really deep analysis and talked to several people that I trust completely, just to bounce things off of people within the program in terms of maybe four players, people around basketball,” Dolson said Monday. “And at the end of the day, ended up with my ultimate conclusion that we needed to change in leadership.”
Dolson’s decision came down to two simple points. Under Miller, IU lacked results, and it also lacked a sense of progress through his four seasons in Bloomington. But there was also one other aspect to consider before officially firing Miller: his buyout.
Per the conditions in Miller’s contract, IU had to pay a $10,350,000 buyout, the fifth-highest buyout in the Big Ten as of April 1.
Dolson said that when he went to IU President Michael McRobbie over the weekend to give him his recommendation to fire Miller, he understood the financial consequences of the decision.
“I also recommended that, given the financial consequences of a decision like this, I thought it was very important that we come up with an avenue to make certain there are no financial consequences as a result of a decision for either the athletic department or the university,” Dolson said.
Dolson said that prior to his decision to fire Miller, he didn’t have any conversations with donors about their thoughts on the state of the program and didn’t speak to them about his personal feeling on the matter.
After meeting with McRobbie, Dolson was given the authority to seek funding to help with the costs associated with the buyout and transition to find a new head coach.
Dolson said he had two separate meetings over the weekend in an attempt to receive sufficient funding. Dolson said one anonymous donor committed to fund the buyout of Miller’s contract while the second anonymous donor committed to fund the remainder of the transition and help hire the next head coach.
“We had an opportunity as part of my recommendation to then move forward, not only with the recommendation I made with no financial impact on the department and the university,” Dolson said. “As all of you know, as a result of COVID, we've got challenges there. So that was a big thing.”
IU Athletics announced Aug. 28, 2020, a 10% departmentwide budget cut following the decision in the fall to postpone fall sports. Due to the 2020 NCAA Tournament being canceled, the NCAA suffered a $600,000,000 decline in annual revenue last season. As a result, the distribution to Division I schools and conferences was only $246,000,000 in 2020, compared to $611,000,000 in 2019.
Despite budget cuts and decreased revenue from last season and football in the fall, Dolson said IU is willing to spend what is necessary to bring in the right head coach.
“There’s not an unlimited resources for sure,” Dolson said. “I don’t want to just assume that it’s an unlimited open checkbook, but at the same time, if we feel it’s the right person, we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”