IU Athletics All-Staff Meeting
Henke Hall of Champions
August 25, 2015
Thank you, Fred [Glass].
Let me start by thanking Fred for his enormously dedicated efforts and his superb performance as IU’s Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Fred has worked tirelessly over the last six-and-a-half years to bring stability and many substantial improvements to the Athletics program, including the much-needed and much-anticipated renovation of Assembly Hall, on which crews are working as I speak, and numerous other outstanding facility improvements.
These are tremendously important contributions to the university and to the community as a whole. Fred has my full and enthusiastic support in every area to help IU’s student-athletes succeed on the field and in the classroom.
Statement on Student Conduct
I expect that all of you will have noticed the announcement last week of a brilliant scientific result in paleobotany by an outstanding team of scientists led by Dr. David Dilcher of IU’s Department of Geological Sciences, where they seem to have identified the earliest form of ancient flowering plant life that emerged about 130 million years ago. This finding was published in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific publications, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
This epochal result was applauded prominently in the media all over the world.
This is the sort of world-class achievement by our researchers with which I want to see Indiana University associated. I want to see the world-class accomplishments of our faculty and students celebrated, as well as the accomplishments of our student-athletes.
What I do not want to see is any more stories of repeated student misbehavior.
They embarrass the university, they embarrass all of you in Athletics, and they are a complete distraction from our primary role as an educational institution.
This misbehavior simply has to stop.
I expect all of you to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear by all student athletes.
I have stressed repeatedly that our student-athletes are first and foremost students! Our ultimate goal is to help them obtain a degree that will prepare them for career and life success.
We owe this to them.
And we continue to see great success in this vitally important area.
Academic Achievement and Character Building
The groundbreaking IU Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, of course, reflects our commitment to that ultimate goal.
It demonstrates and renews our commitment to providing a safe, rewarding, and equitable environment for IU student-athletes as they pursue their education. And, as you know, it also reflects the lifetime commitment we make to our student-athletes. We have seen a number of other universities follow suit and adopt similar programs and polices. And, since I spoke to you a year ago, the Big Ten Conference has recommended reforms that are nearly identical to the provisions of the IU Student-Athlete Bill of Rights.
I was enormously pleased to see that, last year, IU’s Graduation Success Rate improved for the third consecutive year and that six programs—rowing, women's golf, women's soccer, women's swimming and diving, women's tennis, and men's golf—had perfect scores. I extend congratulations to the coaching staffs of these programs and to all of the Academic Services staff who support our students in their studies.
I am also extremely pleased to see that our student-athletes continue to demonstrate the solid academic achievement we expect of them.
Last year, for example, IU had 226 student-athletes who earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. I particularly want to commend Coach Wilson and his staff since, last year, for the fourth consecutive season, at least 20 members of the football team earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, setting a program record.
New Technology and Facilities
All of you are very much aware of the extraordinary additions and improvements that have been made to our facilities in the recent past, including this magnificent Hall of Champions, the Shuel Academic Center, Cook Hall, Bart Kaufman Field, and Andy Mohr Field.
All of these improvements emphatically underline IU’s very strong commitment to Athletics and our student athletes.
But the university expects in return that in addition to excellent athletic results and academic performance, the behavior of our student athletes is worthy of these magnificent facilities.
This spring, I was enormously pleased to join Fred in announcing the establishment of the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology, made possible by a generous gift of $5 million from Mark Cuban.
This pioneering new center will provide IU students across the university with unprecedented access to the newest and most leading-edge media technology currently available. It will also transform the collegiate athletics experience for our many fans. IU is enormously grateful to Mark Cuban for his vision and support of this center, and I know that all of you look forward to the center’s opening in Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall when its renovation is complete.
The renovation of Assembly Hall is, of course, made possible in part by a generous gift from alumna Cindy Simon-Skjodt—another excellent example of the enormous strength private philanthropy brings to intercollegiate athletics. The renovation will preserve and improve “the Carnegie Hall of basketball” for future generations of student-athletes and fans.
As most of you are aware, the gifts by Cindy Simon-Skjodt, Ken Nunn, and Mark Cuban are among the most visible gifts thus far of IU Athletics’ portion of the university-wide Bicentennial campaign that is now underway.
The university-wide campaign is, of course, now in its silent phase, but we will kick off the public phase of the campaign next month, with the ambitious goal of raising $2.5 billion by December 31, 2019. Part of the campaign’s strategy will be to maximize participation and support among groups such as alumni, parents, students, foundations, and other friends of IU. And it will include the first ever faculty and staff challenge. I know the campaign will be an area of focus for many of you in the coming months, and the entire university appreciates all your efforts to support it.
Competition, Conduct, and Compliance
As Hoosiers, we want to win—but win the right way, and with student athletes we can be proud of.
We expect our student-athletes to win with good sportsmanship but without sacrificing their education and without shortcuts.
As always—compliance with all NCAA, Big Ten, and Indiana University rules and policies by all coaches, student-athletes, and staff is crucial, and we will remain vigilant at every level to ensure we follow the rules.
As I have said to this group on numerous occasions, the love of sport must never sacrifice integrity.
Our student-athletes act as role models for students across campus and representatives of IU to the world beyond. They should embody Hoosier values of hard work, dignity, and respect.
All of us must play by the rules, whether those of the law or those of the game, whether we agree with the call or not, whether competition brings victory or defeat.
Lastly, I just want to say I am looking forward to the start of another academic year and for a new season for all our sports teams.
Just as I have high hopes for the more than 45,000 students who began classes this week in Bloomington, I look forward to watching our teams build on their recent success, and bring credit and honor to the university and themselves.