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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)


BLOOMINGTON - Fred Glass says he wants Indiana University basketball to be a perennial contender, and the school's athletic director is willing to spend like one to get there.

"I don't think there's any reason why we can't do that," Glass told IndyStar. "I'm unapologetic in terms of my ambition for Indiana University basketball, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

When Glass decided last year to fire men's coach Tom Crean, he invited criticism for the lofty expectations he set for Crean's successor.

In the brief news release announcing Crean's dismissal, Glass said he wanted IU "to perennially contend for and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament and win our next national championship - and more after that."

Time will tell whether Glass asks too much. But an analysis of Indiana's year-over-year financial commitment to men's basketball suggests he's willing to back his program as it works to meet his aims.

"I just rejected that," Glass said, speaking to criticism leveled at those expectations. "I think part of the reason and basis for rejecting that is we're doing all the things the very most-elite programs are doing. We measure ourselves against the three or four teams in the country that are widely viewed as basketball royalty. Our program doesn't want for anything."

According to NCAA financial reports obtained by IndyStar via an open records request and a USA TODAY review of those reports, Indiana reported greater men's basketball revenues in 2017 than any other Big Ten school, and greater expenses than every program in the league except Michigan State.

The financial reports are required annually by the NCAA from 13 of the Big Ten's 14 schools. As a private school, Northwestern is not obliged to share its report.

In most cases, the gap was significant.

In the Big Ten alone, IU was one of only four schools - Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois being the others - to report expenses in eight figures. And only Michigan State and Wisconsin came within $5 million of the $24,909,573 in men's basketball-specific revenue IU reported to collegiate athletics' governing body.

Still, Indiana's operating budget didn't prevent the Hoosiers from clearing nearly $11.5 million in basketball-specific profit in 2017.

The department's liberal spending on men's basketball was surely aided by the $40.84 million Indiana reported in media rights, NCAA distributions and conference distributions. Those categories cover the majority - if not all - of the revenue Indiana will have gained from the Big Ten's lucrative television and rights contracts.

Those income sources in particular have helped IU's total operating revenues grow from about $57 million 10 years ago to more than $100 million this year. This year marks the first in which Indiana has reported revenues in nine figures, though the department has operated in the black every year since 2006.

In 2017, IU athletics reported revenues totaling $106,139,192, and expenses totaling $106,131,819, yielding a surplus of slightly more than $7,000.

It's against that financial backdrop that Glass is happy to sign off on one of the Big Ten's largest basketball budgets.

In 2017, IU spent more on coaching salaries, game expenses and guarantees (money paid to nonconference opponents) than any program in the conference. Only Nebraska reported more in recruiting expenses, and only Rutgers spent more on support staff.

In some cases, Indiana's spending noticeably outpaced that of its competitors.

Last year, IU reported more than $5 million under the heading "coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses," joined only by Michigan State at that spending point. It reported more than $1.62 million in guarantees, nearly double the outlay of any other Big Ten school. And IU was the only Big Ten program to report seven-figure game expenses, what the report describes as "expenses other than travel which are necessary for intercollegiate athletics competition." Those totaled more than $1.3 million last year.

IU also reported $925,556 in severance payments, the result of Crean's firing.

Spending has increased in recent seasons, though not dramatically. IU reported men's basketball expenses of $11.4 million in 2015 and $12.2 million in 2016.

This comes on the heels of a study, reported Monday in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting Indiana is college basketball's second-most valuable program nationally.

The study, written by Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus professor Ryan Brewer, assigned programs value based on factors that would determine their cost if they could be sold like an NBA franchise - expenses and revenues, cash flow, growth projections and so on.

Indiana clocked in at $243 million, just behind list-topper Kentucky at $246.6 million.

All of that is set against the backdrop of facilities improvement across IU athletics that has extended to men's basketball twice over.

Glass inherited and helped supervise the construction of Cook Hall, the Hoosiers' men's and women's practice facility. And he spearheaded both fundraising for and execution of a multimillion-dollar renovation of Assembly Hall that Glass thinks will extend the life of that building for generations.

"In some ways, we'd been reliant on (Indiana's overall) reputation as much as making it real, in terms of the facilities we had, the way we traveled, so far and so forth," Glass said, referring to all his sports. "What I want to do is find out what we need to do in order to be successful."

A study alone won't restore Indiana to the Final Four, and the kind of national relevance Glass craves. But the numbers have his back. 

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April 6, 2018


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