The days of Tom Crean constantly being on the hot seat at Indiana are over.
The Hoosiers dismissed Crean on Thursday, bringing an end to his nine-year tenure as the team's head coach just one season after he led the team to a Big Ten regular-season championship.
"After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men's basketball program," Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said in a statement. "Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class and integrity. While winning two outright Big Ten titles in five years and being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom worked tirelessly to develop great young men and successful teams. However, ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations. Tom is a good man and a good coach, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his many positive contributions to Indiana basketball. We wish him well.
"The national search for our new coach begins immediately. The board of trustees and the president have expressly delegated to me the responsibility and authority for this search and hire. While I will not establishing a formal search committee or advisory committee, I will consult with basketball experts from around the country and throughout the state of Indiana, including many former Indiana University basketball players. The expectations for Indiana University basketball are to perennially contend for and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament and win our next national championship — and more after that. We will identify and recruit a coach who will meet these expectations."
The move to fire Crean might seem somewhat shocking considering the Hoosiers are just one year removed from winning an outright Big Ten regular-season championship and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen of last season's NCAA tournament. But on the first day of this year's NCAA tournament, Indiana's season is already over, ending with a loss to Georgia Tech in the NIT on Tuesday.
Undoubtedly Crean's tenure in Bloomington was a roller coaster of results. While digging the program out of the scandalous Kelvin Sampson Era, Crean won a total of just 28 games in his first three seasons. But in his fourth year, the Hoosiers won 27 games on earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. The following season, they won 29 games and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, also advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Year 6 saw just a 17-15 record and no NCAA tournament berth. After 20 wins in Year 7, the Hoosiers returned to the Big Dance but lost their first game. Last season, Indiana went 27-8, winning the conference's regular-season title and beating Kentucky in the NCAA tournament before bowing out to eventual national runner-up North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.
But this season, the Hoosiers fell apart despite winning huge non-conference games against Kansas and North Carolina, two of the No. 1 seeds in this year's tournament. Indiana went just 7-11 in the Big Ten and finished the season with a 18-16 record.
Despite developing top-10 NBA draftees Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, Crean has taken heat from the Indiana faithful seemingly every season since arriving in Bloomington. His hot seat reached its highest temperature in the past several seasons, when in addition to inconsistent on-court results, the program faced a litany of off-the-court incidents that resulted in arrests, dismissals and even a long hospital stay for one player after a teammate accidentally struck him with a car.
In the end, the results didn't look too good all totaled up. Crean posted a 166-135 overall record with an ugly 71-91 conference record.
Certainly, as Glass stated, expectations are high at one of college hoops' more-storied programs in a basketball-rabid state. Crean couldn't meet those expectations on an annual basis.