In the last eighteen months, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has been forced to discipline multiple players who have gotten into trouble away from the court. The most recent instance involved forward Emmitt Holt and center Thomas Bryant, with both being cited for illegal possession of alcohol earlier this week. The citation was Holt’s second off-court issue since joining the program last year, when he was suspended four games due to an incident in which the car he was driving struck former teammate Devin Davis after Davis got out of the car.
The incidents do Crean and his staff no favors as they look to return the Indiana program to prominence both within the Big Ten and nationally, and recent issues in the men’s basketball and football programs have caught the attention of school president Michael McRobbie as well. According to the Indianapolis Star, McRobbie let his displeasure be known at the annual all-staff meeting Wednesday, with the characterization being that McRobbie “read them the riot act.”
IU’s president since 2007, he has long taken a supportive, but passive, role with his athletics department. That he felt compelled to deliver such remarks at this week’s all-staff meeting suggest the issue is front and center in the offices of Bryan Hall, the central hub of the university’s administration.
“I expect all of you to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear by all student athletes,” he said according to the excerpts. “I have stressed repeatedly that our student-athletes are first and foremost students! Our ultimate goal is to help them obtain a degree that will prepare them for career and life success.
“We owe this to them.”
While coaches are expected to be mindful of what their athletes may be up to when they aren’t in practice or class, the fact of the matter is that they can’t be with them 24 hours out of the day. That’s where trust comes into play, and over the last eighteen months some Indiana players have made mistakes that have resulted in the program getting negative publicity.
With Wednesday’s developments many will look to Crean to step forward, but he’ll also need leaders within the team to step forward and keep everyone on track. Whether or not that happens will have an impact on the direction of the Indiana program in the upcoming 2015-16 season and beyond.