Tom Crean's job at Indiana is not in jeopardy, and athletic director Fred Glass told ESPN on Thursday that he fully supports the Hoosiers' coach.
Glass said he had to respond after a 77-63 home loss to Iowa on Tuesday dropped the Hoosiers to 9-8 in the Big Ten, 19-11 overall heading into Saturday's regular-season finale against Michigan State at Assembly Hall.
"I'm bullish on Tom," Glass told ESPN. "He's done a really good job with these guys. It's ridiculous to say that someone is coaching for his job for one game and that it would be up or down in one game."
Glass said he met with Crean on Wednesday and reassured him about his job security.
"He's a great coach," Glass said. "He has my full support. I have a great deal of confidence in Tom's body of work. This team overachieved early and then hit a tough patch."
Glass said the terms of Crean's contract buyout -- likely paid over multiple years and not as a lump sum -- would not be an impediment to any decision. The Hoosiers could buy out the deal for $12 million until July 1 and then $7.5 million after. It would drop to $4 million in July 2016 and then down to $1 million for 2017-20.
"There is a sense that Tom is only keeping his job because of the buyout," Glass said. "And while that's a big number and a significant amount of money, that's not what is keeping him in the job. I think he needs to be the coach. ... I want him to be the coach here."
If Indiana ever decides to buy out Crean's deal, it would have to pay upward of $3 million a year to land another high-profile coach -- a lot of money for any school, but especially one where football isn't the focal point.
Glass said Crean does have an offset if he were to get another job or go into television.
"The rise and fortunes of Indiana (athletics) is with Indiana basketball. Everybody thinks the guy with the clipboard, the next guy, can be better. But starting over is overrated. You can't be willy-nilly about it."Fred Glass, Indiana Hoosiers AD
"The rise and fortunes of Indiana [athletics] is with Indiana basketball," Glass said. "Everybody thinks the guy with the clipboard, the next guy, can be better. But starting over is overrated. You can't be willy-nilly about it."
The Hoosiers have had an erratic season, but the team has young talent and is playing without sophomore forward Devin Davis, who was injured when he was accidentally struck as a pedestrian by teammate Emmitt Holt on Halloween.
"We have a super, young team," Glass said. "James Blackmon has hit the freshman wall. I'm really optimistic about this team. Losing Collin Hartman was a big blow, and not having Devin Davis was tough."
Indiana lost at home to Eastern Washington, fell badly to Louisville in New York and dropped a squeaker in overtime to Georgetown in New York City. The Hoosiers also were swept by rival Purdue, but they crushed Maryland at home and had wins over Ohio State, at Illinois, Pitt and Butler (the latter on a neutral court).
Indiana was 7-11 in the Big Ten and missed the NCAA tournament last season. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh surprised the Hoosiers by leaving for the NBA draft. Two years ago, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo led the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 and a Big Ten title before leaving early for the draft.
The Hoosiers reached the Sweet 16 in 2012, as well. The previous three seasons for Crean -- his first three at Indiana -- were all sub-.500 efforts after Kelvin Sampson's tenure ended amid chaos, NCAA violations and a major rebuild.
The Hoosiers are on the NCAA tournament bubble, but Glass hopes that they can make the field for the third time in four seasons.
"We have a chance to win our 20th game and be 10-8 in the Big Ten," Glass said. "I would take that in a heartbeat at the beginning of the season."