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Glass: McRobbie gives stern talk to athletic department

  • Aug. 27, 2015

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By Mike Miller

The latest off-the-court incident involving the Indiana men's basketball program has drawn the ire of university president Michael McRobbie.

Asked if it was a fair characterization to say McRobbie read the riot act to the athletic staff, including coaches and support members, during an annual department-wide meeting on Tuesday, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said simply, "Yes."

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Glass said the IU president shared his feelings about the recurring off-the-court issues.

"He took the opportunity, very appropriately and forthrightly, to express his expectations about student-athlete behavior, and that was to our coaching staff from top to bottom," Glass said. "I gave an annual report on where we are as a department and follow all that with my own expectations in that regard."

In a transcript of his remarks released by the university, McRobbie told staffers that he's had enough of the off-the-court transgressions dominating university headlines.

"This misbehavior simply has to stop," McRobbie said at the meeting.

The president juxtaposed the recent news regarding IU basketball with a breakthrough scientific discovery by IU's Department of Geological Sciences' Dr. David Dilcher, who led a team that last week identified the earliest form of ancient flowering plant life that emerged 130 million years ago.

McRobbie said that is the kind of achievement he wants the university associated with in national and global conversation.

"What I do not want to see is any more stories of repeated student misbehavior," he said. "They embarrass the university, they embarrass all of you in athletics, and they are a complete distraction from our primary role as an educational institution."

Glass declined to address Saturday morning's alcohol-related incident involving sophomore Emmitt Holt and freshman Thomas Bryant. Holt, 19, and Bryant, 18, were cited at 12:50 a.m. Saturday by Indiana State Excise Police after uniformed officers allegedly observed each of them in possession of a bottle of vodka while sitting as passengers in a parked vehicle outside Convenient Food Mart in the 1400 block of North Dunn street.

Indiana released a statement Monday indicating it was still gathering facts about the situation, and Glass said Wednesday that he will defer to that statement.

"While you never want one of those incidents to happen, it was helpful that we had so quickly an opportunity to express the president's perspective and my perspective on our expectations on that," he said.

Indiana has not announced any possible or pending discipline for either Holt or Bryant. For Holt, it's the second time he's been involved with an off-the-court issue in his first full year on campus. In November, he was cited for illegal consumption and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content above 0.02 when former teammate Devin Davis jumped in front of and was struck by a vehicle Holt was driving on 17th street outside Memorial Stadium. Officers determined that both players had been drinking and that Davis was at fault. Holt registered a BAC of 0.025.

Saturday marked the sixth off-the-court incident involving IU basketball players since Hanner Mosquera-Perea's arrest on OWI charges in February 2014. Five of those incidents have included multiple players. Bryant is the seventh player to be included during that span.

It also comes two months after former IU safety Antonio Allen was dismissed from IU's football team on multiple drug dealing charges. Allen was arrested at the Indiana football complex on June 16 by Indiana State Police and charged with dealing cocaine and dealing heroin of 10 or more grams — both Level 2 felonies, which carry a penalty of 10 to 30 years in prison if he's convicted. Allen, who recently transferred to Indiana State, was also charged with dealing methamphetamine.

Prior to his arrest, Allen was captured on video counting money, weighing heroin and methamphetamine and handing the drugs to an Indiana State Police informant in an apartment across the street from Memorial Stadium, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Speaking publicly about Allen's arrest for the first time, Glass echoed coach Kevin Wilson's statement that it was an isolated incident that did not involve others on IU's football team. Glass said he believed Allen was living alone in a single-bedroom apartment.

"We took a comprehensive review of where (the Allen situation) is across the whole team," Glass said. "Without getting into details, I think we're confident to state, as Kevin did, that that is an isolated incident with Antonio."

Although Wilson's team of over 100 players has remained relatively free of arrests and off-the-field transgressions entering his fifth season in Bloomington, Allen's run-in marked the third arrest of an IU football player this year. In April, defensive lineman Ralph Green III was initially charged with misdemeanor battery, public intoxication and disorderly conduct. In July, he was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and one year of probation. The battery and public intoxication charges were dropped in favor of a guilty plea for the charge of disorderly conduct for unreasonable noise. A month later, receiver Isaac Griffith was arrested on OWI charges. That case is still pending.

It all built to a brief, but very direct and blunt address from the university president on Tuesday.

"I expect all of you to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear by all students," McRobbie said. "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."