Indiana Basketball Champions on the Court and in the Classroom
June 12, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Trailing by five points with 52 seconds left on the road in Ann Arbor last March, the Indiana University men's basketball team overcame tremendous odds to win its first outright Big Ten championship since 1993. Five years ago, Coach Tom Crean inherited a program that faced the loss of two scholarships with an APR score of 866. Showing the same resolve off the court, the Hoosiers received an APR Public Recognition Award a week ago and have the top score among all Big Ten teams with a perfect four-year mark of 1,000.
"I think it's hard to describe because to us we live it every day and work at it every day, and we see what the players do every day and see how hard everybody works," said Crean. "But, when you really look at how few people achieve that nationally--and the fact that we've done it all these times now after what we inherited. That's when we put it into perspective. Knowing how tough it was at the beginning, the APR score that we inherited. And now, seeing where it's at and seeing that our guys have done their part to be not only highly respected in the basketball area, but the same way with the academics."
During Crean's tenure at Indiana, every senior has earned his degree. Five, including Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston, Matt Roth, Tom Pritchard and Victor Oladipo earned their bachelor's degree in less than four years and all except Oladipo will have a master's degree in hand by the end of the summer.
"In our program, if you are on time to graduate, you are behind," said Crean to a roomful of IU fans at a Varsity Club function. "Victor Oladipo was able to graduate on his 21st birthday and Cody Zeller leaves IU as a direct admit to the Kelly School of Business and is 35 hours short of his degree. I've talked to NBA personnel who had the opportunity to talk to both during visits or at the combine and the first thing they say is among all of the kids they have talked to, Victor and Cody, are as impressive as anyone in the way they engage in a conversation and make eye contact. Those little things matter."
Eleven programs at IU earning a perfect score for 2011-12 including men's basketball, men's cross country, men's golf, men's soccer, men's tennis, men's outdoor track, wrestling, women's golf, women's softball, women's soccer and women's tennis.
"I want to congratulate our student-athletes, coaches and staff for embracing this high priority for our department," said IU Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass. "These are successes of which all of Hoosier Nation should be proud. We are truly entering the next "golden era" of Indiana University athletics."
The Academic Progress Rate is a real-time measure of eligibility and retention of student-athletes competing on every Division I sports team.
"This doesn't happen if you have a couple of people that don't understand the value of academics," noted Crean. "Last summer, we had four of the freshman that really dove in and understood what being a student was all about. And those four guys were anywhere from a 3.15 to a 3.85. The program right now wears so many different hats, but the academic hat and the education hat and the fact of really being in position to do great things with your academics, that's really important. That's as big of a hat as we have."
With the success in the classroom, Crean is seeing a direct impact on how the academic success of the Hoosiers is resonating with recruits. IU was the only school in the country with two Academic All-Amercans (Zeller and Hulls) and the only institution in the country with a player (Zeller) who earned first team All-American accolades on the court (Wooden, Sports Illustrated) and first-team Academic All-American honors.
"I think it resonates a lot with their families," said Crean. "I think when you can talk to a recruit about the fact that they're going to get an unbelievable education, and they're going to be able to get it potentially early, and they're going to be able to get it inside of three years--three and a half years. As early as we start recruiting we can start talking about AP classes and making sure that you have all these things in order. I think it resonates with them with the families--it really resonates. Because, you get the chance to have the best of both worlds. You get the chance to be a high-level basketball player in a place where everyone really cares about it and you also get the chance to compete in one of the top schools in the country academically. And, it shows that it's working--it shows that the support system that our academic advisor Marni Mooney is as valuable as any coach or player that's in the program. It goes to show that the tutors, the mentors, all the people that are a part of the education process that they see when they're not in class is really important. It also goes to show that every faculty member and person that teaches at that university is really, really serious about making sure that kids get educated."
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