TERRE HAUTE — Dear Dr. Daniel Bradley,
Welcome to Terre Haute! And I mean, welcome to Terre Haute. The presence of the university president in the city the university calls home is a welcome site indeed for ISU students, faculty, administrators and alumni.
Full disclosure. I am not directly connected to Indiana State, I am not even an alum, but my job as the Indiana State athletics beat writer at the Tribune-Star exposes me to a diverse group of people who are interested in the future of ISU and its athletic programs. I have covered multiple athletic administrations, as well as coaches, new and old, who used differing philosophies to face similar challenges in bringing ISU success in athletics. I have observed the challenges ISU’s athletic programs faced in raising money in better economic times than we face now.
Given that, I feel I can offer some suggestions on what path you may want to take with athletics. I know there are other irons in the fire for you, Dr. Bradley, but if you will, please consider the following ideas that could enhance the future of ISU athletics and the university itself.
• Put your trust in Prettyman — Your predecessor, Dr. Lloyd Benjamin, current ISU Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Ramey, and the Board of Trustees made a great hire when they agreed to hire Ron Prettyman as athletic director in 2005.
Prettyman has made very few missteps since he took the athletic reins and it’s fair to say that optimism among the fan base for nearly all of the university’s individual athletic programs has never been higher. The infusion of new coaches has brought new ideas. Prettyman also pragmatically accepted coaches he inherited that he was smart enough to know were successful without a need to rock the boat for the sake of rocking the boat. Moreover, the amount of money raised under Prettyman has increased.
What Prettyman needs now is trust. I admit I am speaking somewhat out of turn here. You may have already addressed your relationship with Prettyman himself, but from my outsider perspective, the more freedom you give Prettyman to continue to improve ISU athletic station, the better. He has proven for three years that he deserves it.
• Do what you do best — What ISU athletics really needs is money, not an easy commodity to come by in a difficult economy. Prettyman’s staff has improved financial matters, but ISU is still behind its Missouri Valley Conference rivals when it comes to donations and overall revenue.
Your acumen in successfully initiating Fairmont State’s first capital campaign and the three-fold increase in private donations is a welcome attribute ISU needs as a whole and athletics needs specifically.
Should money be raised for athletics, ensure that it’s spent wisely. Tempting though it may be, throwing around attention-grabbing huge contracts for coaches is good in the short-term PR-wise, but are often questionable in the long view (of course, if a donor is willing to pony up, that’s a different kettle of fish).
Instead, improve the facilities (see below), infuse the recruiting budgets with more money than the coaches know what to do with, and give the revenue sports a chance to buy attractive home games, which attracts fans, and in turn, attracts money. That’s a foundation that can continue to bear fruit, not unlike a Major League baseball team pouring money into its farm system.
• The multi-purpose stadium should be a priority — As you may already know, football is the most controversial sport at ISU as far as its continued viability. Some are fiercely loyal to it, others would like to see it eliminated. Part of the problem is that football plays three miles off campus at a facility that is literally crumbling. The clock is ticking on Memorial Stadium, and with it, the question of the viability looms larger.
A message can be sent once-and-for-all about the future of football and the long-term health of other sports if the multi-purpose stadium proposed either for ISU’s current campus or on the land purchased east of campus is built.
Football could shake off the fears of its long-term viability and progress to the point where the sport is as important a part of ISU’s campus life as it is elsewhere. Women’s soccer could have a beautiful facility to call home, and perhaps, ISU could initiate men’s soccer as well. ISU’s most successful program in recent years — its men’s and women’s track and field teams — need and deserve a top-notch facility to call their own. Obviously, building one facility for three sports is also the most economically sound option.
• Maintain commitment to academic excellence — Since I’ve been here, and before that, ISU has had an excellent academic athletic reputation. The women’s basketball team has been the nation’s best, and other programs have excelled as well.
There’s really nothing to be done here, Dr. Bradley, just keep it up. However, ISU should not be tempted to erode its academic qualifications in the face of more lax qualifications for scholarships and transfers elsewhere in the Missouri Valley Conference. Instead, ISU can be the force of internal change in the Valley to make the other schools accept ISU’s standards, rather than lowering the bar to theirs.
• Make ISU Terre Haute’s team of choice — You are going to be very disappointed, Dr. Bradley, when you go out-and-about during the fall and winter and see scads of Indiana University, Purdue University and all manner of other university T-shirts and sweaters floating around Terre Haute.
The Sycamores are not necessarily the team of choice in their own city and whatever can be done to change that needs to be considered. This is one area where your desire to build a relationship between the city and the university can be most easily measured.
Success in the athletic arena is the best tonic for this circumstance, but until then, ISU should be doing whatever it can to create a relationship with the community at large to make the Sycamores their team of choice. If that means ticket discounts for Vigo County residents, study it. If it means more community outreach (something that has improved in recent years), so be it.
I would like to see a day where Terre Haute, all of Terre Haute, loves its Sycamores. It’s not there yet.
• Create a ‘university atmosphere’ — Admittedly, this goes beyond the realm of athletics, but developing a “university atmosphere” through commercial development would be a big boon for ISU and Terre Haute too.
Most of the time, “university atmosphere” grows organically. It grows around commercial districts like Indiana’s Kirkland Avenue, or on a smaller scale, the village area of my alma mater, Ball State. ISU has no equivalent of that right now, and most of the time, it’s not something a school can just create.
However the land ISU has purchased north and east of the current campus offers a unique opportunity, especially if the stadium is built. Give over a block or a half-block to commercial development in an attempt to attract restaurants, stores that appeal to students, and gasp!, even a bar or two. A place to hang out might seem frivolous, but it can do a world of good for the university’s campus life.
On the athletic front, a more entertaining university life is advantageous to recruiting as well as connecting with current students and alumni.
Those are my ideas, Dr. Bradley, and if I may be brutally honest for a moment, I’ve had plenty of people — ISU insiders and others — approach in me in the last four years to tell me ISU could never be more than a minor entity within the framework of the Missouri Valley Conference and college athletics overall. There is no shortage of people who think ISU can’t succeed athletically.
I don’t believe that. I don’t buy into the negative, think-small mentality that has been really difficult to shake. There is no reason some of the successes other universities like ISU have enjoyed can’t happen here. There’s no reason why Terre Haute can’t embrace what ISU can bring to this city.
There are pieces in place, they just need to be taken advantage of. With the right resources, good leadership, and some good fortune, I think they can be.
Best of luck, Dr. Bradley. I think everyone who has a stake in ISU athletics is looking forward to seeing what you can do.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE — Dear Dr. Daniel Bradley,
- From the Press Box
From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out
The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.
From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football
As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.
TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one
When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.
TODD GOLDEN: Colts fans paid Manning ultimate tribute
Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis was many things — the return of a beloved prodigal son, a battle of Colts’ No. 1-draft-pick quarterbacks and last, but not least, the visit from one of the AFC’s last reminaing undefeated teams — but most of all, it could have been a battle for the Colts’ fans soul.
From The Press Box: ISU in top 2 of top-heavy MVC
Change doesn’t often come to Missouri Valley Conference basketball. Until this season, it had endured with the same 10 members since the mid-1990s. But the reality of conference realignment finally hit the MVC where it lived last spring as Creighton departed for the new Big East Conference. The MVC responded by adding Loyola University.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season
It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.
From The Press Box: An avoidable loss
It couldn’t last forever.
From The Press Box: Colts dodge bullets ... it's what they do
Just a few minutes into the second quarter, it seemed Colts fans could kick back and enjoy a Sunday on Easy Street.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Indiana State proves plenty in 20-14 loss at Purdue
No moral victories?
Bull. Its always been bull and it will always be bull. The Sycamores proved again that moral victories are very real, and can be very rewarding.
All they needed to do to prove it was to look at the stunned faces of the Purdue faithful at Ross-Ade Stadium in the Sycamores’ near-miss 20-14 loss to Purdue.
From the Press Box: Stipends? No. Off-field income? Oh yeah, bring it on
The war flags have been raised. The trumpets have sounded.
With the Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo and the ongoing Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA for using his likeness as background, many have rallied to the battle standard of stipends as a means of compensating NCAA athletes who are allegedly being exploited for income by their universities.
This rally cry has a particular resonance among those in my profession, many of whom dislike the current system, and who detest the NCAA with a virulent passion.
TODD GOLDEN: Golf ... the beast within?
Like many sports fans, my interest in professional golf is confined to the four major tournaments. Many prefer the Masters, some like the back-to-roots British Open, but I’ve always liked the U.S. Open the best.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
MVC can't wait on Crieghton to move forward
Will they go or not? That’s been the question that the Missouri Valley Conference and Creighton have been faced with since rumors of the Bluejays’ potential exit went public in December.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Can Sycamores reverse fortunes heading into MVC Tournament?
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
The mechanics of X-and-O success in basketball are obvious, but what’s often overlooked in building a successful campaign is managing the rhythm of the season, which is the hardest thing of all.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Accountability isn't Lansing's alone in ISU's recent struggles
Taking ownership has always been one of Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing’s strengths.
When ISU has lost games in his three seasons at the helm that it was expected to win, Lansing has always been willing to fall on the sword and take blame for it.
TODD GOLDEN: Indiana State has far more occasions to rise to
Rejoice, Indiana State basketball fans. The Sycamores’ 68-55 victory at No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday is worthy of celebration.
TODD GOLDEN: Big plays in last 10 minutes story of the season for Indiana State
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
It’s 20 games into Indiana State’s men’s basketball season and I still expect the Sycamores’ offense operate like a well-oiled machine from the opening tip.
Sycamores blossom on Hawaii trip
Quick quiz … what’s the state flower of Hawaii?
Don’t worry. I can’t just rattle state flowers off the top of my head. I had to look it up too, even though I’ve seen them all over the place in Honolulu.
I didn’t even know that Indiana’s state flower is the peony, which replaced the apparently unloved zinnia in the 1950s.
Hawaii’s flower, and they’re ubiquitous in Waikiki tourist shops and in actual flora on Oahu, is the yellow hibiscus.
The yellow hibiscus is big, bold and bright. I’ve never seen one blossom, but I imagine it has to be a beautiful sight.
What I have seen blossom — and it’s the only reason flowers would be brought up in my column — is the Indiana State basketball team at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU needs to have its realignment head on a swivel
Have you ever driven past a cow pasture during a severe thunderstorm? If it’s really bad, the cows will congregate in a herd to protect themselves from the tumult.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU AD Prettyman keeps it close to the vest
Do you want to know who’s on the short list to become Indiana State's next football coach?
TODD GOLDEN: Trent Miles leaves Sycamores with giant legacy
To glean perspective on Trent Miles’ time as Indiana State’s football coach, I went back into the Tribune-Star’s archives to remind myself of what the football program was like when Miles arrived to rebuild it.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Scoreboard watching and the threat matrix for ISU
Indiana State football coach Trent Miles reaffirmed his belief Tuesday that a victory over Youngstown State on Saturday will propel the Sycamores into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time since 1984.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Twists and turns, but Luck passes eye test
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made his much anticipated Lucas Oil Stadium debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Looking back and forward at ISU athletics
It started in State College, Pa., and ended in Eugene, Ore. Few Indiana State athletic seasons have spanned the nation in as many sports as 2011-12 did for the Sycamores’ athletic teams. And from coast-to-coast there was glory and heartbreak alike.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: ISU progresses under Prettyman
He didn’t say a word, but it was as clear as Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman sat in the PK Park dugout and watched the Sycamores take batting practice prior to their NCAA Regional at Oregon last Thursday, he beamed with pride.
TODD GOLDEN: MVC pitching helped prepare Sycamores for regional
Nick Petree, Pierce Johnson, Ty Blach.
These aren’t just elite-level starting pitchers Indiana State’s baseball team faced this season. They comprise three of the last five pitchers the Sycamores faced period.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: ISU baseball has pluses, minuses for tourney bid
Last Thursday, when Indiana State’s baseball jumped around in a celebratory dogpile after clinching the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship at Bob Warn Field, no one thought that a little over a week later, the dreaded NCAA Tournament bubble would fly over Terre Haute.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Subtle switch has fostered MVC baseball parity
When Indiana State was crowned as the regular season baseball champion of the Missouri Valley Conference last Thursday, it marked the fifth different regular season champion the league has had since 2005.
- More From the Press Box Headlines
- From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out