The season is over. There are no more games left to be played. There is nothing left to be distracted from. Indiana basketball has to say something about Tom Crean's future in Bloomington. Soon. Today. Five minutes ago. Right now.
That hasn't happened yet. So it might be time to say something.
These are things you know, it needn't be written into any lede, or anything of the like: Speculation around Tom Crean has been ramping up since February, reaching its fever pitch as the team stumbled through the end of the regular season with a 10th-place finish to show for it. There was a semi-quick Big Ten Tournament exit. There was an NIT something-of-a-beatdown, with condition that they don't have to show their faces in Bloomington to compete. Such speculation, vitriol, anger is showing no signs of quieting down any time soon. The situation at-hand is not one that can be sat through quietly until next year. With three years left on his contract, Indiana University must decide to either commit to Tom Crean with some sort of extension or move on.
And that decision needs to happen soon. I'm not talking "back of the Bible" soon, but practicably soon. "What are you up to this afternoon?" soon. In a different, far more preferable universe, it would have already happened.
To do neither sends its own message, to the fans and to the players (both current, future, and prospective), that the program is allowing a hand to be tied behind Tom Crean's back and jeopardize his ability to turn this thing around. That the program is fine with asking him to secure commitments from kids to a school that won't commit to him. That the program has no issue with the optics of a 10th place finisher being at a crossroads and deciding "I guess we'll stay put and hope for the best."
Listen, we've all got an idea of what Indiana Basketball should do. We've argued about it for
months years and changed positions more than once. But I think we can all agree that avoiding making a decision does far more damage to Indiana in the short- and long-term than either choice would. If Tom Crean is going to be here next season, it would behoove us to let him operate with full, contractual support from his employer. If Tom Crean is not going to be here next season, it would behoove us to move on, allowing both parties the opportunity to thoroughly vet their options for the coming year.
The longer this drags out, the worse it'll get. National media outlets are speculating and reporting about every scrap of information that comes out of Bloomington on the eve of the sport's greatest weekend. Indiana can't fly under the radar with this. Any prospective replacement at the helm of the Hoosiers, now or in the future, could start wondering if they would receive the same wishy-washy treatment should their backs be against the wall at some point in their tenure.
It's time to say something. After all: Indiana Basketball is iconic.
You've gotta be careful not to devalue it.