This is a continuation of our series of posts breaking down each major hire that IU Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass has made during his tenure. You can find previous and future series entries here.
Although he’s only through his first season, Steve Aird has his fingerprints all over the Indiana volleyball program. He has done just about everything he could have done up to this point after taking over a team that was fresh off a 1-19 conference slate. He drastically improved Indiana’s record in year one, somehow got in the bubble discussion of the NCAA tournament before losing his captain this past season, is recruiting well, and moved into a brand new home in Wilkinson Hall. It’s really difficult to turn things around that quickly and gather a tremendous amount of momentum as a program in one season, but Aird did all of it.
Taking that momentum and growing even more is just as difficult. Aird’s track record at Maryland as a head coach as well as an assistant coach at Penn State, Auburn and Cincinnati suggests he can recruit like hell and create a winning culture within a program that didn’t have one before—especially in an absolutely loaded Big Ten conference. His time as President and COO of Complete Athlete Inc. shows that he can develop players into top-tier athletes and land them on some of the nation’s best collegiate teams.
There’s hardly anything to criticize him for. He’s winning, seems to be just scratching the surface, and has delivered on essentially everything he’s said publicly in terms of what he wants to accomplish. Oh, and saw the average attendance record at University Gym shattered by the turnout throughout this season—his first season.
A final letter grade is difficult to assess. It seems unfair to Aird to give him an “incomplete” grade—even as one of two hires to coach just one season up to this point—because he has done a lot of good things for the program. It feels as though there’s really not much more to ask of him, and very little to reasonably criticize him about.
At the end of the day, Glass hired Aird to inject life and character into a program that hardly had any. The first half of this decade saw a number of seasons below .500, with the few seasons leading up to Aird’s hiring fluctuating between mediocrity and disappointment. With Aird in charge, there seems to be a sense of confidence and optimism as well as a palpable buzz around the program for the first time in a little while. Given all of that, I find it hard to give him anything less than an A so far.
Current grade: A