BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana athletic director Fred Glass opened the season Friday night with a grand announcement to the sold-out crowd.
Coach Tom Crean will be under contract for the rest of this decade.
The announcement came right after Indiana's starting lineup was introduced and just moments before tip-off on opening night. Fans stood and applauded and the two men who had worked out the deal walked over and shook hands.
"I thought he was right guy from the beginning," Glass told The Associated Press at halftime of Indiana's 97-54 victory over Bryant. "I thought he was the right guy when we hired Kelvin. As it turned out, I ended up here and we ended up hiring him."
Nobody can quibble with what Crean has done — digging one of America's most prestigious basketball schools out a hole and putting it back on the national map.
It sure wasn't easy.
He took over a team in turmoil in April 2008. He had only two returning players, both walk-ons. The grades were sub-par, players weren't graduating and Indiana was in the midst of a NCAA scandal.
Over those first three seasons, with fans still turning out to watch in droves, Crean won only 28 games.
Cody Zeller's arrival last season changed everything.
The Hoosiers upset then No. 1 Kentucky in December and Ohio State, No. 2 Ohio State three weeks later and No. 5 Michigan State two months after that. It marked the first time in school history that the Hoosiers had ever beaten three top five teams in the same season.
When they ended a three-year postseason drought, the Hoosiers responded by making their first trip to the regional semifinals in a decade before losing the rematch to eventual national champion Kentucky. With all five starters back from the tournament run, Indiana earned the No. 1 ranking in the preseason poll for the first time in 33 years.
And now, he's being rewarded for the turnaround.
Crean's base salary will go from approximately $2.52 million per year to $3.16 million. The deal also includes performance bonuses based on Academic Progress Rate scores, Graduation Success Rate scores and the team's GPA. If all standards are met, Crean's salary could increase by as much as $55,000 per year.
The buyout, Glass said, would cost $8 million over the next three years, then drops to $1 million in Year 4 and drops again to $500,000 over the final four years of the deal. School officials said additional contract details will be announce when the deal is formally signed.
Crean ceded the credit.
"None of this would be possible without the staff. I've got a group of people who have worked so hard, and it wouldn't be possible without them," he said. "And it wouldn't be possible without the players. They're the ones who are graduating early, they're the ones who are getting the grades, they're the ones who are getting 1000 on the APR (Academic Progress Rate) for the third year in a row."
Players appreciated the move, too.
"It's pretty special, you know. He's helped us more ways than you can imagine, on and off the floor, making men out of us really," senior guard Jordan Hulls said of Crean. "It's really cool to see him rewarded for the hard work he's put in for us."
Glass didn't give an exact timeline for how the deal came together.
But with Crean getting a salary increase of more than $500,000, it didn't take long to work out the details — only the timing of the announcement.
"It reminded me a lot of the political theater I used to be part of," Glass said. "They did enjoy it, and he deserves it. He's done a great job."