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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Athletic Directors and financial incompetency go together at I.U.

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You really don’t have to be a graduate of Indiana University or even a sports fan to catch a whiff of that big pile of money burning out of control in Bloomington. A good breeze will easily carry the stench to your doorstep, and no matter how hard they try, even the local fire department can’t douse it.

Yes, the shangri-la known as “Old I.U.” has an Athletic Department that disposes of legal tender quicker than any misguided political regime and nearly as fast as they get their hands on the windfalls from both television and merchandise sales annually.

In the event you haven’t noticed or even care about the considerable amounts of your tax money they receive, the financial simpletons known as Administrators, Trustees and Athletics Directors continue to issue insane contracts to coaches with little pedigree and even less ability in hopes of reviving their floundering basketball and football programs that have been stuck in neutral for decades with no real chance of resuscitation on the horizon.

While it’s fashionable in certain circles in Monroe County to blame it all on now departed Athletic Director Fred Glass who indeed issued ill-advised contractual agreements to both former Men’s Basketball coach Archie Miller and recently fired Football coach Tom Allen, there has been plenty of bad financial decisions made since his long overdue departure occurred and the rather questionable appointment of current Athletic Director Scott Dolson as his replacement thereafter. 

Why were two coaches with virtually no resumes to speak of given such gaudy contracts to begin with? That’s pretty easy to define in retrospect as the obvious lack of experience in the Athletic Director’s chair coupled with two programs mired in mediocrity, combined to attract second-tier candidates who were promptly given deals containing ridiculous buyout clauses that quickly became shall we say an albatross around their neck.

The fiscal management of major college sports programs requires a specific skill set, one that is part sales executive and part corporate raider, and it’s not anywhere for the meek and inexperienced to set up shop. Glass, while an attorney by trade and a graduate of Indiana, was viewed as good on paper despite never cutting a deal with a corporate sports entity or hiring a coach. Sure, there was big television revenue rolling in, but he was too busy riding around campus in a golf cart bearing his name to realize the gravity of the job and the mess he’d created

When he walked before they made him run, the University compounded the debacle that is Indiana University Athletics by appointing Scott Dolson as his replacement who is both a graduate of this “heralded” institution but clearly as green as Glass was in terms of the necessary pedigree to survive in the cutthroat industry of today’s college sports environment. 

Both these questionable hires could’ve been avoided with a legitimate national search process and a salary tendered to a seasoned candidate in a commensurate fashion.

By playing bargain basement bingo and requiring it be an “IU” guy, the University President and its trusteeship set themselves up for the colossal financial failures that currently are ravaging both the balance sheet and what little professional integrity the Athletic Department currently has left. 

While the once coveted basketball program and historically irrelevant football program continue their downward spiral, the Athletic Department should still be run in a responsible manner, one that turns a profit provided that there’s competent personnel at the helm. Until that move is made, don’t blame the current misery on the unqualified coaches who signed those really bad contracts with outrageous buyout provisions. Their agents outfoxed Indiana University, and that’s something that needs to stop before another insane buyout is once again issued. 

Danny Bridges, who thinks the situation in Bloomington is both ridiculous yet predictable, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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