Indiana Fires Crean after Nine Seasons

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 17, 2017 | Go to article overview

Indiana Fires Crean after Nine Seasons


Byline: Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tom Crean put Indiana basketball back in the national conversation.

As it turned out, there was too much talk and not enough wins. Not for the Hoosiers.

Nine years after taking over a team mired in turmoil following an NCAA scandal, Crean was fired Thursday after missing the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in his tenure.

The 50-year-old coach had three years remaining on his contract, and the move comes a little more than three months before his buyout would have dropped from $4 million to $1 million.

But with so much angst among the general public, athletic director Fred Glass couldn't afford to give Crean another chance.

"The expectations for IU basketball are to perennially contend and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep into the NCAA Tournament and win our next national championship and more after that," Glass said. "We will look to identify and recruit a coach who can help us meet these expectations."

Despite going 166-135, winning the two conference titles and last year's Big Ten coach of the year award, Crean's teams never advanced beyond the Sweet Sixteen. And after last season's surprising Big Ten title run, the Hoosiers again fell flat this season.

They ended up a pedestrian 18-16.

Fans weren't just upset with the mounting losses; they viewed it as an extension of a long-running narrative that Crean could only take the Hoosiers so far.

Glass praised Crean for digging the Hoosiers out from an NCAA recruiting scandal that left the team with only two returning scholarship players in 2008-09. Four seasons later, Christian Watford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer upset then No. 1 Kentucky and put Indiana back on the national map. They wound up getting knocked out of the regional semifinals by Kentucky.

Indiana opened 2012-13 at No. 1 and but lost for the second straight year in the regional semifinals, this time to Syracuse. After that, angry fans never really seemed to forgive Crean for the early elimination.

One of his biggest supporters, Cody Zeller, always backed Crean -- even though he knew the stakes were high.

"I think that's the beauty of Indiana fans," Zeller said Wednesday night, following a game against the NBA's Indiana Pacers. "I think they expect good basketball. You know what you sign up for if you're a player or coach going there."

Winning wasn't the only problem. …

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