After bringing Indiana back from crippling NCAA sanctions, winning two Big Ten titles and earning conference coach of the year honors merely a year ago, Tom Crean is out as Indiana University men’s basketball coach.
It's the end of a nine-year run for Crean, IU's longest tenured coach since Bob Knight. Crean authored a return to prominence for IU's legendary basketball program, but ultimately couldn't shake the inconsistencies that defined his final years at the helm of the program.
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass decided late Wednesday night to fire Crean, then informed the 50-year-old of his termination on this morning. Although Crean reached great heights as IU's coach, winning conference championships in 2013 and 2016, his teams also missed the NCAA Tournament twice in the last four years.
His final game as coach was Tuesday's 75-63 loss to Georgia Tech in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament. A national search to find Crean's replacement will begin immediately.
"We had two specific conversations about the future and what I saw as my options going forward," Glass said during a news conference this afternoon. "They were very, very positive. He was very relaxed and non-defensive, and I really appreciated those conversations a great deal. But last night, after I had a chance to really absorb and consider everything, the feeling was that a decision needed to be made. I felt like it would be bad for everybody to leave him twisting for a few more days."
Because he was terminated without cause, Crean will receive a $4 million buy-out for being fired with three seasons remaining on his current contract. IU will not make that payment in a lump sum, but rather over those three years, and should Crean find comparable employment, whether as a coach, media personality, etc., that money will be offset dollar-for-dollar with his new salary. In the end, IU may owe very little — if anything at all — to its former coach.
Crean's tenure at IU had reached a crossroads prior to his firing. With only three years left on his deal, he would have needed a contract extension to continue recruiting prospects, especially given the early relationships Crean liked to build with eighth-grade players and high school freshmen.