Glass Brings Unique Perspective To Big Ten Football Media Day
July 28, 2009
Chicago, Illinois - Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass has viewed his beloved Hoosiers through many lenses. As a child, he enjoyed the opportunity to come to Memorial Stadium and watch Indiana compete for a Rose Bowl berth, while admittedly spending more time running up and down the hill of the North End Zone than staying in his seat. As a student, he and his pals enjoyed the traditions and pageantry of game day like so many others, and most recently as an alum and a father of an IU student, he beamed with pride each time he came back to share his passion and excitement for the Cream and Crimson.
So on a Monday in late July, Glass, who began leading the IU athletic department on January 1, was enjoying the view from his current post with the University.
"This is my first time at this event and I am real excited about being here and I'm sort of like a kid in a candy store," said Glass who was holding court with a dozen or so reporters. "Seeing all the players and coaches around and all that. It's my first time as an AD to go through an IU football season. IU Football has been a big part of what I've done and experienced and now I get to do it as an AD, so I'm having a lot of fun with that."
Glass has chosen to dive in head first into what should be an exciting season of Indiana football thanks to the completion of the North End Zone project and other numerous visible improvements in and around Memorial Stadium.
"We look at it as a new stadium," Glass added. "The reason IU is last in the Big Ten in terms of how much we have to spend per sport is because we don't fill Memorial Stadium. That's the reason why getting football right is important not only for football's sake but it is important for the whole department. And that's why I'm really focused on that."
Not wanting to stand behind the adage "if they win, the fans will come", Glass has implored his staff to be creative and make the entire experience of attending a game at IU as fun and as memorable as possible.
"I've been a little concerned that with like a lot of places, there has been a little bit of a cop-out potentially to say, well football will take care of itself," said Glass. "Once they win, we will get people in the stands. Maybe there's not too much we can do from an administrative perspective to help the team, but I think we were able to do some things institutionally to help drive interest and attendance in basketball. Whether it was the $5 balcony tickets or kids coming down to the court after the game or balcony to baseline kind of stuff. So we are going to try and do some of that stuff for football. Going in saying, yeah we want to win and we expect to win. I understand the best thing for attendance is winning and we'll get there. But I'm also not going to sit back and accept that we as administrators can not do anything to help drive attendance, absent of consistent winning on the field. That's why we are going to do a whole bunch of things not only to make that happen, but to demonstrate our commitment to football as an institution. "
Glass believes there are many things that will help keep the turnstiles clicking this upcoming season.
The Hall of Champions, located in the North End Zone, will be one of the finest banquet facilities on the IU campus and will be used as a corporate hospitality area during home football games. All six games are currently sold out with companies using all 425 red chairback seats in the new area.
A Knothole Park area in the South End Zone will feature a replica of the stadium's playing surface that will be manned by IU student-athletes and allow kids to have a place to enjoy the game, much like Glass did in the old North End Zone.
A retro scoreboard in the North End Zone that will have a 1950's and 1960's feel to it.
Creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the Little 500. He also wants to allow fraternities and sororities the opportunity to drape banners or letters in recognition of their support throughout the facility. In addition, he will look for the band and cheerleaders to be aggressive in their ability to ad energy to the festivities.
$5 single game tickets for students that would also allow them to bring their friends from other Universities to purchase a similar ticket with a valid ID from their school.
A new and improved sound system that will be in place for the October 3rd dedication of the new facility when Indiana hosts Ohio State.
New paint in and around the stadium, including an area that will be painted to look like the fabled candy stripe pants the men's basketball team wears.
Improved areas for fans to purchase tickets and a philosophy of customer service that hopefully will eliminate bottlenecks for fans while trying to enter the stadium.
Decorative flags that will help spruce up the image of the stadium and a project that will begin surrounding the stadium with fencing that will give the facility a look similar to the old 10th Street Stadium of years past.
"I had a little bit of a fear that we would have this unbelievable facility on the end of what is now our horseshoe, noted Glass. "And it would be a little bit like a finally cut diamond on the end of a worn out cigar band. You know the old Memorial stadium, as much of we have fond memories, it still has gotten a little worn and I was little concerned that we needed to do improvements to the stadium, to compliment the improvement that is the North End Zone facility."
However, not all of his emphasis is on the atmosphere and game day experience. Glass is especially proud that those who served before him had come up with a design and construction plan that will best serve Indiana's student-athletes.
"We think the North End Zone facility, what I hope will become known as the Student Athlete Development Center, is really going to be a difference maker and the most tangible demonstration of the university's commitment to football," said Glass. "It's very exciting, but I can't really take much credit for that, I inherited all of it. President Adam Herbert, and Athletic Director Rick Greenspan, and other people had the vision to make that happen."
Glass especially was pleased with the layout and how it really makes it easy for the student-athlete to take care of their business at hand in a way that allows for maximum flexibility.
"I think that some times the public can easily misunderstand that the stadium project was really about the additional seats," said Glass. "They see it from the inside of the bulb out. They see it and think, oh why are you adding seats to a place that isn't full already. I think it's important to underscore what I think all you guys understand that it's a 148,000 sq. foot building that's going to have a 25,000 sq. foot strength and conditioning room which is the biggest in the Big Ten, the biggest in the country, actually of its kind. We go from less than 5,000 sq. feet of strength and conditioning to over 25,000 sq. feet and catapult us into a place that's really a difference maker when we talk to kids about the facilities we have. "Our student-athletes, particularly our football players have their entire day built around that fact. Between meetings, practices, academics, strength and conditioning, the convenience and proximity is really pretty extraordinary. Some big time programs from around the country have come to this and said "wow this really beats what we have" in terms of programs that might be a little more at the tip of your tongue in terms of prominent national football programs."
And Glass is excited about what he sees from Bill Lynch, his staff and a group of players who are anxious to move into their new home this weekend.
"I think we are starting to get some of the benefits of the stability of Coach Lynch being there," added Glass. "We have 35 scholarship upperclassmen, I feel we are kind of getting a cut above kid coming in. I'm not a master on football evaluation, but when I read about the kind of kids were getting and the teams we're beating out combined with the stability with the players we have, I feel good about where we are. Our job is to give them the best tools possible and I believe that is what we are getting."
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