Indiana basketball is a mess. Their struggles are not just on the court, where they went 17-15 last season and failed to make a the NCAA Tournament for the third time under head coach Tom Crean, but off the court as well. The news out of Bloomington this past week has been extremely disturbing. On Saturday morning, it was announced that freshman forward Emmitt Holt had struck and seriously injured teammate Devin Davis with his car. Holt was cited for underage drinking, but police are putting the blame on Davis for jumping out in front of the vehicle. Luckily, Davis was not killed and has shown signs of improvement since Saturday.
The next piece of disappointing news came out of Monday evening, when ESPN announced that two more Indiana players, sophomores Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams, are going to be suspended for four games due to failed drug tests. Talk about piling it on. So right now I am going to take off my media hat and put on my Indiana Alumni cap and tell you how I really feel about this situation that should result in people kicked off the team and a cleaning house at the top of the Indiana athletic department.
Let me say this first; I attended Indiana University from 2005-2009. I survived the end of the Mike Davis Era, the Kelvin Sampson experiment, and the rough first seasons of the Tom Crean years. I have seen some rough times for Indiana basketball, but nothing has made me angrier than what the last week has become. In the last nine months, six scholarship players have been arrested or cited for alcohol related issues, with Stanford Robinson being repeat offender.
There is clearly a leadership issue in the program. When your team’s leader, Yogi Ferrell, tries to get into a bar under age during Little 500, Indiana’s biggest party week on campus, you have major issues. While this offense is not a mortal sin, it just proves how little thinking these players are doing. The first thing anybody tells you before the biggest party weekend in Bloomington is that if you are underage, you, under no circumstances, go to the bars. Excise police will catch you and you will pay the price. So, when the single most recognizable underage Indiana student tries to get into a club that weekend, it says two things. First, that he is not thinking, and second, that he thinks he is bigger than the law.
This has become a culture issue for the Hoosiers, and something has to change. Obviously, head coach Tom Crean and athletic director Fred Glass simply do not get it. On Monday night, it was announced that three players, Holt, Robinson, and Williams will be suspended four games. Four games is nowhere near a significant amount of time, and to top it off, the two-exhibition games IU plays count toward the suspension. Is this really what Crean and Glass think this is an appropriate punishment? It’s laughable at best. To send a message, players will sit two regular season games.
On top of this joke of a punishment, Glass came out and told the Indianapolis Star, “I’m confident Tom is the solution, not even part of the problem”. Wait, what? Whether you believe Crean is a part of the problem or not, he is the head coach of a team who has had six alcohol related incidents in less than a year. Somebody has to take some responsibility for the actions of the team.
Crean and Glass had a chance to send a message Monday by either kicking Robinson off the team for his second legal issue, or suspend the players for the at least half the season. How Ferrell got off without a suspension is beyond me. It just seems like Tom Crean and the Indiana Basketball program is more focused on winning games at all costs, even if it destroys what Indiana basketball is supposed to stand for.
Tom Crean came to Bloomington because this was Indiana Basketball, he should leave Bloomington before the season starts because this is Indiana Basketball, and he has run this program back into the ground. He should also take Fred Glass with him on his way out, because he has proven himself to be clueless as an athletic director. As a proud IU alumni I am sick of what has become of this once proud program. Something has to change, or this season will become the ugliest one yet.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Pat Lovell, USA Today Sports