Tom Crean showed multiple weaknesses by failing to show for his own firing

Tom Crean didn’t show for his own firing as basketball coach at Indiana University.

Tom Crean could have won his last game as basketball coach at Indiana University.

He chose to not play.

In the most interesting and revealing paragraph in Pete Thamel’s post on featuring the first comments from Tom Cream about his firing as basketball coach at Indiana University, Thamel reported what he was told by Crean,

The next morning, Crean got a text message from athletic director Fred Glass to meet with him, which Crean inferred was to receive news of his dismissal. He declined. “At this point, I knew what was coming,” he said, “and wasn’t going to do that.”

Being fired sucks, but it’s part of life – especially in coaching.  Coaches can do a superb job and still get gassed if the results don’t reflect the level of work.  If fans aren’t engaged by the product, great coaching can be irrationally blamed.  That’s not what happened at Indiana, but Crean certainly could choose to look at his tenure as coach as a success while still acknowledging his time at IU needed to end.

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He could have shown up for the meeting, looked athletic director Fred Glass in the eye, dared him to pull the trigger, and accepted the news like a man.  He then could have taken the high road – and the logical road – by extending his hand, thanking Glass for the opportunity (and $28-million).

Being fired reveals character, and Crean showed his.

Crean’s refusal to attend his own firing also cements his assessment expressed to Thamel throughout the post that a lack of alignment existed between the athletic administration and the basketball program he ran.  Public opinion about the cause of the lack of alignment will and should be colored by his decision to avoid the meeting.

If you respect your boss, you show up for meetings when requested – even when the news is known to be bad.  And if you don’t respect your boss, you look for a new job.  Crean’s apparent lack of respect for Glass was at the minimum partially responsible for the lack of alignment he claimed.

The most surprising part of this admission by Crean is that he made it at all.  As Indiana’s coach, Crean was handsomely paid to read a situation and strategize to control it.  Sharing his decision to not attend his own professional reversal of fortune showed a tone deafness that reveals him to be a checkers player instead of a chess master.

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What are we to conclude about Crean other than he avoided an unpleasant moment, rather than try to win it?  He also showed that while he was employed to shepherd adolescents into manhood, he failed to show much himself when faced with adversity.

That lone paragraph from Pete Thamel is all Indiana fans who questioned the decision to fire Crean need to reassess and see this as a right step.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at




32 thoughts on “Tom Crean showed multiple weaknesses by failing to show for his own firing

  1. Chronic Hoosier

    Coming from the guy who refused to meet with his boss on judgment day, isn’t it then fair to question the veracity of his statement that Glass was solely responsible for moving the NIT game to Georgia Tech?

  2. Wes

    What you failed to mention was that Glass was constantly telling Crean everything was okay and that he was going to keep his job. Maybe it’s Glass that should’ve been the man by giving Crean no false hope but telling him that they would sit down when the season was over and evaluate it together. Maybe Glass should not have contacted Creans agent before talking to Crean himself.

    Personally I hope Crean wins a national championship really soon. He deserves it.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      How do you know that? Based upon what do you believe Glass “constantly told Crean everything was okay”?

      1. Wes

        Read reports out there by many sources. Glass himself admits he was going to give Crean another year but the boosters wanted the change. Why does Glass tell Creans agent the university was moving on before telling Crean? Given that, I wouldn’t have attended either.

      1. Ramon

        That story also said his family had a flight to catch early that morning. I would have made that flight too.

  3. Dayton Dave

    I’m really excited about IU basketball and football at this time. There is always risk when change happens. But, IU can minimize the risk by selecting well. AD Glass will choose a very good candidate for head coach.

    Glad Coach Crean is gone. Glad that the turnovers and strange substitutions and poor matchups and bad game plans are gone.

    I don’t read as much as the article does into Crean not showing up. The gig was up. Crean was grieving. They both already knew the score. The rest would just have been bells and whistles…not meat and potatoes.

    Some day soon, IU will have a new head coach. Good.

  4. Brian

    I am so glad Crean is gone. That “weave and heave” offense with the “turnovers are OK” dressing sucked. He had more than enough time at IU.

    Playing the victim card shows more about his real character than anything else. He got paid a lot of money and should just shut his yap and go find another job.

    1. Wes

      Let’s see if you’re still glad in three years when IU not only doesn’t make it past the sweet 16 but doesn’t even make it that far. Just like a lot t of fans, you blame the coach for every turn over and defensive switches that don’t happen. I guess coach K should go too … number 2 seed who can’t make it to sweet 16.

      1. Brian

        Hey Wes. If you cannot see that IU was a very poorly coached team than I have no sympathy for you. It also demonstrates how little you know about the game.

        Go ahead and build your Crean shrine in your basement if that gets you through the night.

        1. Iufan4ever

          Tell me oh wise one. What would you as a coach, have done to stop the turn overs and defensive mistakes? The players admit it was worked on constantly in practice and they admit they didn’t bring those learnings to the game. So as a coach, what would you have done? And can you not admit had it not been for injuries to Hartman, Anunoby, Morgan and Blackmon, they would’ve won 6-7 more games.?

          1. Timothy Walmer

            Sit their ass on the bench till they learn how to protect the most important thing in the game. Quit clapping like it’s OK to throw the ball away.

  5. hgdownunder

    What really flabbergasted me about that interview was how Crean blamed a “poor graduate transfer market”. It really proves that he had no idea about building a sustainable program by internally growing talent and leadership. He was only looking for quick fixes – grad transfers, 5 star talent.

    1. Iufan4ever

      What about programs like Duke, KY that go after the “one and done” players? Are those not quick fixes? IU could pay players cash like many other programs and then win. I think most fans want to win at any expense.

  6. Joel

    Turned on 1430 about 3:15pm on Monday afternoon…IU talk. Turned off. Turned it back on around 4:30, more of the same. Off.Same thing on Tuesday and same times, click(off)! It’s a shame as good as show as Kent has,to keep blabbering on about this IU dreck is nauseating to say the least.With all of this great basketball being played over the weekend and two Indiana teams left, some how the coaching search drama and rehashing IU’s woes trumps all else. Kind of a slap in the face to Purdue and Butler to have such little air time .Unreal and sad. Never have seen such bias from a talk radio show that is not AFFILATED to a university or program and I have been listening to local sports talk in the Indy area for going on 30 yrs.. I understand talking about IU ,It is the favored team in the state, but come on lets have some nonpartisan talk. You think that would be a requirement for a sports personality not to be connected to one team or favoritism. Turned it on again this afternoon “The Days of Our Lives and As The World Turns ” IU bb soap opera continues.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      First, thanks for listening when you do. Second, I have never seen another host at Hinkle or Mackey for practice. I’m at Hinkle constantly, and at Mackey when I can get there. We talk to Butler players and coaches at least five times a week during the season, and have had Mathias, Cline, and Edwards over the last week. No one else does that. The IU coach story is a once in a decade story with so many sidebars they are impossible to count. Interest in a story has never been higher since the firing of Bob Knight. It will be over soon. Both Purdue and Butler won on Saturday. Recapping a game played two days prior or previewing a game to be played in three or four days would be idiotic. Today, we’ll talk Purdue and tomorrow we’ll talk Butler and Purdue. We will also talk Indiana.

    2. Tim McFalls

      IU rocks. It’s the team most bball fans want to watch,follow, and have passion for. Sorry, to burst your bubble.

  7. Rob Newcomer

    I find this article to be distasteful. Why is it necessary to the “kick” the guy while he is down, regardless if you feel if the firing was warranted or not. I have no issue with the firing, he wasn’t achieving the results that he was hired to meet. The truth is that no one was privy to the relationship between Glass and Crean. I think that Glass made Crean the escape goat in the situation, they both bear responsibility in not winning. Now Glass is a one man show when it comes to the hiring of the next IU Basketball Coach per his own admission. No search or hiring committee. All from the guy that made the decision of giving up home court advantage in the first round of the NIT. Why aren’t you writing about Glass? Move on, Crean has been fired, no reason to keep railing on the guy.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Of course, there is a reason to be writing about Crean. Through Pete Thamel, Crean presented a specific narrative that went unchallenged. I believe it deserves to be challenged. For example, you state as assumed fact that Glass made the decision to move the NIT game. While Glass may have signed off, Crean was at the minimum in agreement the game should be moved.

  8. Chad Pollitt

    Look… I’m exactly in the middle on Crean. Don’t care if he stays or gets fired, either way. As an alumnus, I do care about the program and the next hire. As a hard working professional I can understand Crean’s decision, 100%. I’m assuming you’ve experienced professional burnout. He had an end of season vacation planned. I would have taken my vacation being in his end of season situation, too. He was the highest paid public employee in the State of Indiana and likely had one hell of a vacation planned. His decision does not speak to his character in a negative way at all. It speaks to a burned out professional with a family begging to get away from the stress of the job. I’m a professional writer myself in a different vertical. This post is a reach, at best, and at worst, a superficial smear. Come on man… raise your bar.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Indiana played – and lost – Tuesday night. Fred Glass asked for a meeting Thursday morning. That left Crean, or his assistant, less than 36 hours to plan whatever this “impromptu” and “already planned” vacation became. How a vacation can be both impromptu and already planned is a discussion for another day. I’m also curious what kind of employee can hop on a plane without telling his boss in advance.

      The primary thrust of the post is that any lack of “alignment” between Crean and the athletic administration was driven by Crean, and the purpose for the interview was to drive the opposing narrative, which some have been gullible enough to believe.

      When you are fired, you show up. Period. Even if it’s simply to look your boss in the eye and force him to experience it in the most unpleasant way possible. $28-million is a lot of cash, and much of it delivered by an extension negotiated by Fred Glass. A thank you would have been nice from a good coach who profited in a substantial way, but was not a fit.

  9. Todd McKinley

    Told to come to a meeting by text, not a phone call.
    His agent knew he was fired before he did.
    Glass had NIT game moved off campus to save face when the right thing to do was decline the bid, then let Crean go.
    News dumped Crean’s firing right as NCAA tourney began.
    Gives contract extension to Kevin Wilson, then lets him go due to philosophical differences that were there before contract extension was given.
    All of these things were done by the coward athletic director Fred Glass. Crean’s time was up and he needed to be let go, but not like that. I hope Fred Glass finds himself on the hot seat.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      That might be the method by which Glass and Crean regularly communicated.
      Not what Thames’s story said.
      You’re assuming that decision wasn’t Crean’s.
      Indiana does not operate on NCAA time. The story was not going to be allowed to leak.
      We don’t know the specific reasons for Wilson’s firing. We have not seen the report.
      Glass has resisted the urge to give a transparent accounting of several decisions, and that might be for humane reasons, rather than those defined as cowardly.

      1. Todd McKinley

        I know you aren’t that naive or stupid to believe that it wasn’t a news dump. Also, Glass said himself that he took advisement and made the decision to move the game. What would have saved Crean’s job? Win a couple games? NIT crown? Very doubtful. Why play the game? I generally like your show but i feel like you were sitting on Glass’s lap when you wrote this.


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