IUPUI's Hunter is genuine article

August 13, 2008
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hunterIUPUI men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter has been criticized for being over emotional and too demonstrative during games. Some Div. I athletic directors and basketball coaches have told me that trait has held back the affable Jaguars coach from landing another—bigger—job. Outside of Cleveland State calling a couple years ago, Hunter hasn’t gotten much of a sniff. This snub comes despite Hunter’s ability to put together a solid program in the shadows of Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, not to mention Butler. Last year, the Jags were 26-7, playing out of a gym most high schools would consider unacceptable.

I don’t profess to know how a basketball coach is supposed to act during a game. I can tell you that after watching an IUPUI game or two, Hunter certainly is animated on the sidelines. But I disagree that his actions are mere theatrics. Far from it.

I don’t know Hunter well. In fact, I’ve only spoken to him once. But over the last month, I’ve learned a lot about the man. As a journalist, I am paid to think critically and measure things with a skeptical eye. Last season, when Hunter emerged to coach a game barefooted, I admit I thought it looked a lot like a publicity stunt. And it worked, landing Hunter and IUPUI in the local and national media spotlight.

Then Hunter did something that blew me away. While the Hoosier nation was gnashing its teeth over Sampson-gate and new coach Tom Crean was bemoaning school-imposed recruiting restrictions—and the rest of the world was focused on the Beijing Olympics, Hunter packed up boxes containing 3,000 pairs of shoes and headed for Peru. He pulled three of his players out of summer workouts and himself and his assistant coaches off the recruiting trail to serve the poorest of the poor. For 12 days, they washed kids’ feet. They gave them shoes. They prayed with Peruvian children with few opportunities for advancement and even less reason to have any hope. They wiped their own tears away even as the Peruvians inexplicably smiled from ear to ear.

The trip itself gained little media attention. Hunter’s team gained no on-court advantage for next season. And none of that seemed to matter.

“I took my players completely out of their comfort zone, to places they didn’t know, to do things they didn’t understand and they were incredible,” Hunter told ESPN.com. “I wish every coach in America could experience this with his players. I know there are coaches who win national championships, who go to Final Fours. If you told me I had to exchange this experience with my players for a Final Four, I’d say keep your Final Four. This will stay with me far longer.”

Ron Hunter may be theatrical. But in my book, he’s no actor. And IUPUI should be happy to have him.
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  • Hunter is a great guy and IUPUI should be proud to have him as a coach. Here is the link for the group he worked with http://www.samaritansfeet.org/
    They are hoping to get more college coaches participating raising awareness of their organization and need around the world.
  • i couldn't agree more. they don't get near the respect they deserve. they should consider playing games in conseco next year or in the years to come against other state rivals. he was recently on the mike and mike talk show on espn a week ago and had a tremendous interview that i think opened an eye to a large following that tunes in to them over the radio, t.v., and internet. good work hunter.. keep it up.
  • I have never personally seen this man in action, but I cannot imagine him to be more theatrical than another big name Indiana college basketball coach - who shall remain nameless - whom lots of people seem to love. I think it is improtant to be a good person as well as a good coach, this man seems to be working very hard at both.

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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