IU football team hitting 20-year financial highs

December 3, 2010
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Lost in the firing of Indiana University football coach Bill Lynch is the fact that the team is making some serious progress—at least financially.

Despite a less than stellar showing on the field, IU still managed to increase attendance and revenue during this football season over 2009. Throw in the $3 million IU scored for moving its game with Penn State to Maryland, and Hoosiers Athletics Director Fred Glass has something to smile about.

Here are a few facts to remember. During former Athletics Director Rick Greenspan’s last year in 2008, IU’s average attendance was a woeful 31,700 in the 52,929-seat Memorial Stadium. Average revenue generated per home game that year was $445,933.

Last year, the first under Glass’ direction, IU averaged 41,833 fans and $698,936 per home game. Those were high water marks not seen in Bloomington since the early 1990s.

This year, the Hoosiers averaged 42,991 in attendance and $705,573 cash generated for six home games. It’s important to remember, that these increases were made in a season when Purdue and Ohio State were off the home schedule, and those two games typically sell out. IU only sold out one game this year—Michigan—but it had solid crowds for home games against Akron (42,258), Arkansas State (40,480) and Iowa (42,991).

Glass has worked hard in the last two years to build momentum for his program, but in a conversation with him shortly before the Purdue game, it was clear he understood that keeping Lynch for the final year of his contract in 2011 jeopardized the progress.

Glass’ desire to honor Lynch’s contract was palpable leading into the final game.

“I think contracts should matter,” Glass told me shortly before the Purdue game. “At a starting point, we should honor contracts.”

The decision to fire Lynch, in the end, had as much to do with financial gains and the potential for the football team to score millions more for the school’s athletics department than anything else.

If Glass thinks he can push revenue generated per game to $1 million, it makes perfect sense to spend $1.5 million to $2 million annually on a football coach. It could be argued that by hiking the average revenue per home game $259,640, Glass already has the justification to seek a top-level football coach.

In mid-November, Glass spoke to me about “simmering frustration” from the football team’s student and alumni supporters. He admitted that boiled over after the 83-20 loss at Wisconsin Nov. 13, adding that school supporters “were madder than a hornet,” and hadn’t been shy about letting him know.

On Nov. 18, Glass told me, “Sure, [the loss to Wisconsin] was embarrassing. Coach Lynch understands that, and now we’re moving on.”

Now, it’s clear which direction Glass—and Lynch—are headed.

  • Good piece
    As said by Barbara Hershey's mom in Hoosiers, "The sun don't shine on the same dog's ass everyday, but mister you haven't seen a ray of light since you've gotten here." Finally a well thought out and written piece, good work Anthony!
  • Imagine
    Imagine how much money they would make if they actually had a competitive team!
  • Vicious cycle
    I am an IU grad and a huge fan of our football team no matter what our record is.
    I agree with the "Imagine" post above, but the bigger question is, how can we (IU) get out of this vicious cycle? Meaning, how are we ever going to get a strong coach who can recruit strong players which will ultimately help us field a strong, competetive team....I suspect that even paying someone $2 million a year may not be enough. What strong football coach would want to leave where he's at (or even one who might consider coming out of retirement) to come coach us? We need to find a way to get out of this vicious cycle...let's hope Fred Glass can figure it out.
  • The gains are good, but I cannot believe a major program like IU would sell a home game. That is really turning your back on your fans. It is a bad precedent, but so is saying you think it is important to honor contracts and then can your coach a couple of days later? And that coming after he accomplished something that has been rare in IU's history by beating Purdue. That does not speak highly of him as a person.

    It is not hard to get out of the vicious cycle. Higher a quality coach. Does not have to be highly paid coach, look at Purdue with Tiller, Hope and Painter. Someone who is good and fits and then give them time. Quality will pay off. On the other hand, remember Sampson and what happens when you are willing to do anything to win.
  • Right COach
    Comeon, Glass had no choice but to fire Lynch. Actually IU was doing the politically safe choice in making Lynch permanent to begin with.

    IU has to have someone who can sell the program. If not wins then at least enthusiasm.

    We had that in Hep, not in Lynch.
  • breaking the cycle
    I think the answer to breaking the cycle may lie in finding a gem of a coach before they are discovered by someone else and made into a hot commodity. This takes vision and a rare skill in identifying talents not evident to the masses. Fred Glass must hire someone and get him vested in the IU program in a way that insures he's not just the next carpetbagger through the turnstile. That's why A guy already winning at a Pac 10 school or a ladder climber like Brady Hoke is not the long-term answer.
  • BCS
    You have to remember that IU is in a BCS conference, which actually means something these days. Look at TCU. The reason they left the Mountain West for the Big East was because of the automatic BCS bowl games. The old attaitude of who would want to come here needs to change. We have a lot of what a coach is looking for and it is paramount to finding the right guy for the job. You also have the Big Ten network which is even more exposure for your team and players. That should also help in recruiting the kind of talent to be competitive. There should be a long line of qualified coaches knocking on the door. Choosing the right one is the real challenge.
  • IU
    I learned to conjugate verbs using the Hoosier football squad. Hoosiers suck, Hoosiers have sucked, Hoosiers will have sucked.

    Oh well.....
  • Problem with looking for that rare gem is you have to go through tons of rock and dirt. I am not sure IU has that much time. They have peoples attention, they have some fan monentum, they have to build on that. Getting another coach who may be the rare gem may take too long.

    Maybe they can sell the PSU, Ill and Purdue home games next year and make $7 mil or so.
  • indyman on right track
    Seems it's all about money now at IU. That's what happens when you have to pay a bunch of ex administators and coaches. Sell all the games. Be like the Globetrotters. Just get on the road and go. Do a game in Vegas. LA. Miami. Dallas, Pasadena. All the places they play the BIG bowl games. That's the only way IU is getting there!
  • IU Blows More Money
    Fred Glass hires a new coach for $1.2 million a year who was making $430,000 last year. Of course IU still needs to pay the old coach his $258,750 plus.

    Of course the first thing Glass says is don't expect results immediately, it will take time to "build a new program".

    Fun with IU salary database

    IU Press Release:

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