BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Tom Crean has been fired as the Indiana University men’s basketball coach, Indiana University Athletic Director Fred Glass announced Thursday afternoon.
The announcement comes after a tumultuous, inconsistent season for the Hoosiers who beat NCAA tournament number one seeds Kansas and North Carolina and were at one time ranked number three in the nation. However, their season began a downward spiral after losing to Fort Wayne on November 22. They proceeded to lose five games in a row during Big Ten conference season play. They lost in the first round of the NIT tournament after failing to make it into the NCAA tournament and ended the season with an 18-16 record.
Glass released the following statement:
After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class and integrity. While winning two outright Big Ten titles in five years and being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom worked tirelessly to develop great young men and successful teams. However, ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations. Tom is a good man and a good coach and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his many positive contributions to Indiana basketball. We wish him well.
The national search for our new coach begins immediately. The Board of Trustees and the President have expressly delegated to me the responsibility and authority for this search and hire. While I will not be establishing a formal search committee or advisory committee, I will consult with basketball experts from around the country and throughout the State of Indiana, including many former Indiana University basketball players. The expectations for Indiana University basketball are 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. We will identify and recruit a coach who will meet these expectations.
Glass held a press conference Thursday afternoon regarding his decision.
He said Crean was willing to move forward with IU without getting an extension, but Glass was ready to move on. He said Crean would have been on the hot seat starting day one–with the fans wondering if each move and act would be Crean’s last.
“This decision– I felt like I was ready. It needed to be made and so I did,” he said. Crean was informed Thursday morning.
He said Crean will get the $4 million he’s entitled to in his contract. It’ll be paid in normal paychecks, not as a lump sum. If Crean gets a comparable job soon they may not have to pay him that much or at all.
Glass spoke highly of Crean’s coaching ability, saying Crean’s first three years at IU were a “Herculean” effort that may be his best coaching to date.
He said he hopes the players and staff will give the new coach a chance and speak with the new hire before making any sort of decision. If anyone wants to leave, IU will work with them.
In terms of searching for a new coach, Glass said he was open to any candidates, but did mention a few things that he considers a plus. He would love to hire someone with ties to IU, is from or lives in the state and has experience in being a college basketball head coach.
He also said he wants someone who cares about the players in mind, body and spirit. He said he’s not excluding anyone, and anticipates a large amount of applications.
“Our resources won’t prevent us from getting what we want,” he said. “The next coach has the chance to put his mark on the program. We have the resources to make that happen.”
In the end, Glass said he made the decision not because it would be the popular thing to do. He said he did it because it was the right call.
Crean joined the IU basketball program in 2008, succeeding interim head coach Dan Dakich after Kelvin Sampson resigned following NCAA recruiting violations. Throughout the past five years, he led IU to a 120-53 record and won the 2013 and 2016 Big Ten titles outright. He brought in multiple top recruits, including Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, who were the number 2 pick and the number 4 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, respectively.
During the 2012-2013 season, IU was the number one ranked team in the nation for 10 weeks. Despite the impressive regular season, the team lost in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse. That was the turning point for many people’s feelings about Crean’s coaching.
Former IU player Christian Watford who was a member of that 2012-2013 teams tweeted this after the announcement about Crean’s firing:
Verdell Jones, a player at IU from 2009 to 2012 tweeted out this statement.