IU cashing in on basketball success
Indiana University is cashing in on the Hoosier's big wins and high hopes. In Bloomington, winning on the basketball court is worth millions.
IU's financial scoreboards are lighting up along with the faces of fans and Athletic Director Fred Glass.
"Being at IU right now is the greatest thing in the world," Glass said with a grin.
Athletic Club donations that provide scholarships to student athletes jumped more than a million dollars last year and are up 22 percent so far this year. For the first time in decades, alumni Kim Normington returned to campus, he says, because of basketball.
"IU's back after about a decade in the dark ages," said Normington.
It's been 25 years since IU won a national champion ship. This year's Big Ten title is IU's first in a decade. And don't underestimate the power of IU's number one national ranking (although the Hoosiers dropped to number two this week behind Gonzaga.)
"Professors are happy. Administrators are happy. Business people I talk to around the state are happy. Legislators are fairly happy. It's a good time to be a Hoosier," said Glass.
The financial benefits extend beyond athletics. In the five years since Coach Tom Crean arrived, donations to the IU Foundation are up nearly $40 million.
Hoosiers, who perhaps hid their loyalties for years, aren't shy any more. IU gear sales are in top gear. A varsity store on campus had its shelves and racks piled high with jerseys, shorts, shirts, pants, hats, and anything Crimson and Cream.
Before Tuesday night's game against Ohio State, store workers expect Hoosier fans to clean the place out. Royalties from IU apparel sales are already up 30 percent this year.
Games, of course, are now sold out. How hard were students working to get in to Assembly Hall three years ago?
"Oh, not hard, not hard at all. Not hard at all," said junior Scott Romaniuk.
This season, 12,000 IU students vie for 7,800 seats. The competition to see a game can be almost as intense as the game itself.
There is another price of success. Athletic director Glass says "modest" ticket price increases are in the works.