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Indiana coaching search: Fred Glass’ next decision will define his tenure at Indiana

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By most all accounts, Fred Glass has been a great athletic director at Indiana University. However, he’s about to face his most important decision yet.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Glass knows the value of the Indiana program. It’s been much of a talking point this week just how much he values the program.

But it was clear when watching Glass at Thursday’s press conference that he also understood the importance of today’s decision and, subsequently, the hiring he’s about to make.

This move will shape his legacy.

Glass has come under fire in recent days and weeks, maybe deservedly so. He fumbled the handling of the NIT game and followed it up by delaying the Crean decision. In the end, he realized the tough decision need be made.

Those two recent instances not withstanding, Glass’ tenure at IU has been a wholly positive one. However, his future, and even his past to some degree, will be shaped by his next move.

The decision facing Glass is far larger than any he’s come across at Indiana. His decision to hire Tom Allen after firing Kevin Wilson pales in comparison to today’s move.

Legacies of athletic directors are tied to the success of their head coach hires. Fans remember Rick Greenspan for hiring Kelvin Sampson. Clarence Doninger (and Myles Brand, more prominently) are forever tied with the firing of Bob Knight.

As of now, Glass is indirectly tied to Tom Crean, whose tenure at IU will likely be remembered more fondly the further we move on from today’s news. Glass is linked to the revival of the Indiana basketball program. Now, his goal is to take them to the next level.

There’s reason for skepticism. Glass’ most recent hire of Tom Allen as the head football coach involved no local or national search and saw him hire a coach who had spent just one year in Bloomington. Pair that with the NIT debacle and the feet-dragging of whether to keep or fire Crean and the last few months have been tenuous for Glass.

The counter to that, though, is the superb run he had in his eight-and-a-half year run. He replaced Tracy Smith with Chris Lemonis at the baseball program, a move that helped keep the momentum alive for the Hoosiers.

He brought in Teri Moren to replace Curt Miller and has the women’s basketball program positioned in the best spot it’s been in many years.

And none of this is to mention the facilities he’s upgraded or brought to Bloomington - Cook Hall, Kaufman Field, north endzone of Memorial Stadium. It also doesn’t take into account the outspoken empowering of student-athletes from Glass during his tenure.

All of that makes the following days, weeks and months all the more critical. Glass’ tenure at Indiana has been a wholly positive one, but make a wrong move now and you’re tied to that decision.

To his credit, everything Glass said on Thursday indicates he, too, realizes the enormity of the decision in front of him.

Glass will have the resources. He’ll have a program that is, at worst, one of the top 15-20 jobs in the country, a far cry from the last coaching search. He’ll have the backing of the University. He has the backing of the fanbase. He won’t have a search committee to appease. This move and decision is solely on him.

All eyes are focused now on Glass. Don’t devalue the program.