Fred Glass sees his new job as Indiana University athletics director as that of a public servant. He accepted the job even before IU President Michael McRobbie mentioned anything about pay. While Glass' $410,000 annual salary will be significantly higher than Greenspan's $300,000, it represents a six-figure cut from what Glass makes as a partner at Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels. "This job isn't about the money," he said.
A desire to help his alma mater out of one of its darkest eras is driving Glass from the lofty perch of his downtown law firm to a cinderblock office in Bloomington. Glass takes over Jan. 2, but he's already taking a workman-like approach to the job, setting up one-on-one meetings with every IU coach and key student-athletes, alumni and financial supporters.
Glass even pledged to hold open houses at his offices for students and mingle with them at dorm-room cafeterias and the student union. While mixing with college students and recruiting and managing NCAA Division I coaches is new to Glass, public service is not.
Glass has been an adviser to former Gov. Evan Bayh and former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and was president of the city's Capital Improvement Board, overseeing Conseco Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field.
IBJ: How did you become a candidate for the IU job?
Glass: The chairman of the search committee, Bill Stephan (IU's vice president for engagement) approached me, and asked me if I would consider pursuing the position. I've known Bill over the years. He was the outgoing chief of staff for Mayor Goldsmith when I was the transition director for Bart Peterson coming into the mayor's office. We worked pretty closely on that transition.
IBJ: Do you think Notre Dame's hiring of Jack Swarbrick, another Indianapolis attorney with sports experience, opened
the door for IU to consider you?
Glass: For a storied program like Notre Dame to turn to an unconventional candidate probably was comforting to IU, although we never really had that conversation.
IBJ: Whom did you turn to for advice when considering this job?
Glass: One person is [IUPUI Chancellor Emeritus Gerald] Bepko, who formally nominated me to the committee. He was my law school professor and dean, and obviously a very prominent, respected person within Indiana University. He was very helpful in thinking through the pros and cons.
IBJ: Was accepting the job an easy--or difficult--decision?
Glass: When it was offered to me, it was easy. When President McRobbie called me, I said "yes" right away. And he said, "But we haven't come to terms yet." And I said, "I'm confident that will follow," because I certainly didn't do this for the money. Ultimately, I felt like it would be a really exciting challenge and hopefully a capstone on my career, something I can do 10, 12 or 15 years. A big thing for me was, does President McRobbie's commitment of excellence to this university extend to the athletic department? If [McRobbie] wanted me down there just to make sure the pot doesn't boil over, I'm not real interested.
IBJ: How big is your learning curve?
Glass: There's an awful lot to learn. That's part of the excitement for me. I think this will need to be a team effort. I don't think you get in one person everything you should or want to have in an athletic director. I look forward to working with people who have more experience in the blocking and tackling of athletic administration.
IBJ: You said your No. 1 goal as athletic director is to ensure "comprehensive compliance." How will you ensure that?
Glass: We're going to become known once again as an institution that follows the rules. My intention is to make sure we have state-of-the-art systems and the absolute best people to implement those systems and it's something the athletic director is personally engaged in on a regular basis to make sure that we are absolutely following the rules. That doesn't mean we're going to be afraid of our own shadow and not recruit aggressively, but we're going to be known for following the rules.
IBJ: How open and accessible will you be as IU athletic director?
Glass: I think the fact that [Oct. 28] I started at 7:30 in the morning and didn't finish until late at night in terms of talking to all the beat reporters and calling the major editors and appearing on talk radio shows and doing TV stand-ups ... I did that purposely to send a signal that I hope to be a very accessible athletic director and have as transparent an athletic department as we can have.
IBJ: How will you reach out to IU alumni and other supporters?
Glass: I hope to be engaged in very aggressive outreach starting even before I officially start on Jan. 2. I want to meet with all the coaches and all the senior staff one-on-one before the end of the year. I'm looking forward to meeting with key alumni, financial donors, trustees, student athletes and faculty. And starting to paint a picture from talking to all those different folks about what's going on in the athletic department and what's going on well—and I think a lot is going on well—and what needs improvement and what their views are on that.
IBJ: Do you have any comment on the IU football program or coaching situation?
Glass: I think it's important for IU to have a very successful football program. I have a very high regard for Coach [Bill] Lynch. I view my responsibility as making sure he has the tools he needs to be successful. It is important for IU to have a successful football program because it helps generate revenue for all the other sports we need to have. Without a successful football program, we're fighting in the Big Ten with one hand behind our back.
IBJ: Do you think the past controversies involving the IU athletic department have affected fund raising?
Glass: It would be hard for me to believe that they haven't. It feels like the department has done a good job under Rick Greenspan in getting some of the fiscal house in order. That's one of his positive legacies. But I've got to believe that's been challenging—probably not so much in university fund raising as a whole—but for the athletic department.
IBJ: How do you think Greenspan did as IU athletic director?
Glass: I mentioned getting the financial house in better order. He has focused on some of the infrastructure improvements that need to be done. I think it would be inappropriate to say that there haven't been positive aspects to his tenure.
IBJ: What are the most immediate challenges that need to be addressed within IU's athletic department?
Glass: My priorities are, No. 1, we are going to follow the rules and become known as an institution that follows the rules. That is job one. Job two is, we're going to achieve academically. We're going to be the type of institution where moms and dads want to send their sons and daughters because they know they're going to go to class and they're going to graduate.
IBJ: How confident are you that you have the skills to recruit top-notch coaches for IU's sports teams?
Glass: I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't think I could be successful. I recognize I have some gaps in terms of specific athletic administration experience. But with all modesty aside, I think I bring some skills and achievements that are fairly unusual for an athletic department.
IBJ: What are some of those unusual skills you bring to the table?
Glass: I think the fact that I'm an IU person is very important. I know this place. I'm of and from this university, and I think I understand the people here. I've stayed engaged in the university through the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Council. I'm a lawyer. I think that helps me as a problem solver, and I think it helps me be a sophisticated consumer of legal advice. I've managed and administered complex organizations, whether it's the $12 billion budget of the state of Indiana or the $50 million budget of the Capital Improvement Board.
IBJ: Do you anticipate keeping most of the current staff?
Glass: I don't plan to make any precipitous decisions or act hastily. I don't have a clean-the-house mentality. It's not like I'm an athletic director from another place bringing in my senior staff. I plan to be deliberate and thorough in evaluating who we have and where their strengths lie and who would be appropriate to add to the mix.
IBJ: How big a part of your job is fund raising and maximizing revenue generation--and how will you address that?
Glass: I think that is a very significant part of my job. I will be an externally focused athletic director. I will be doing everything I can to raise the profile of our programs ... help tell the stories of these amazing student-athletes and help raise money. Having a successful department is going to depend on three things: The culture of the place. Is everybody buying into our vision? Is everybody working together? Then it's about people. Do we have the right people on the bus, and are they in the right position on the bus? Once we get the culture and the people where they need to be, they've got to have the resources. In this day and age, that's going to be revenue generation, but it's also going to be outright fund raising. I think that's one of the strengths I bring, and I intend to spend a lot of time on that.
IBJ: How would you rate the status of IU's sports facilities ... and how do they compare to the rest of the Big Ten?
Glass: I don't know for sure. I have a general understanding that it's a challenge. We're probably going to need to [focus on improving infrastructure] on the athletic side of 17th Street. We're already doing that. I'll look to see where we compare to our peers in the Big Ten and I'll do everything I can to make sure that facilities aren't a handicap for our coaches and athletes.
IBJ: Overall, how would you characterize IU's athletic department currently?
Glass: It's a department full of great tradition, and probably full of some really outstanding people. Hopefully, I can be someone who can lead it to a new level of excellence.