Here’s the question-and-answer session from last night’s news conference at Assembly Hall. The participants include Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass, Indiana vice president for capital planning and facilities Tom Morrison and Indiana Coach Tom Crean. The transcript was posted to Indiana’s athletics website.
FRED GLASS: Good evening. I’m here with head men’s basketball coach, Tom Crean and Tom Morrison, who is the Vice President For Capital Planning and the Facilities with the University. Appreciate everybody being here today and answering all your questions at one time. It was ironic that I was in Assembly Hall when this happened today. We were having our very first kickoff meeting of the renovation team for the new Assembly Hall, so we had our chief university architect, our chief university engineer, Vice President Morrison, our outside structural engineers, our outside architect, that whole group was together in Assembly Hall.
We met at 2:30 p.m. Shortly after that meeting started, a couple of our facilities folks, including Chuck Crabb were called out of that meeting because of something that apparently happened in the bowl. A few minutes later I went out to check with Scott Dolson and some others on what was going on and we realized a piece of metal had fallen down in the bowl. So that was about 2:30 p.m. We got in there about 20 minutes after that, interacted with our university engineer, and based on his advice, concluded around 3:30 p.m. that we should cancel or postpone and reschedule tonight’s game. So that was made on the advice of Jeff Kaden, the University’s Chief Engineer.
We were immediately in contact, even before the decision to postpone with our partners at the Big Ten, reached out to the folks at Iowa. I contacted Tom to let him know, Tom Crean. He came over immediately. So, again, the decision was made within about an hour of the incident occurring, and it was fortunate and lucky or happenstance that this group of people were in Assembly Hall, because I think it really made the assessment and decision making go much quicker than it otherwise would have.
Once the decision was made about 3:30 p.m., we reached out to let folks know, and I talked to Fran McCaffery at Iowa, talked to the folks at the Big Ten Network, also talked to Dave Brandon, the AD at Michigan, because we have a women’s basketball game scheduled for tomorrow night, and we issued the announcement, I think it was about 10 till 4:00 p.m.
So from the time it fell at 2:30 p.m., made the decision about an hour and 20 minutes after that and advised the public that we wouldn’t be having the game.
Going forward, we are in conversations with Iowa on when the men’s basketball game will be rescheduled. Under Big Ten rules we have 72 hours as an institution to institution to find a mutually acceptable date. Both Indiana and Iowa are confident we’ll be able to accomplish that. In the event that it’s not rescheduled, within 72 hours by agreement of the teams, then the Big Ten conference makes that decision.
We’ve also concluded, based upon, again, advice from Jeff Kaden, the chief university engineer that the women’s basketball game will go on as scheduled tomorrow night, because we’re able to handle the anticipated capacity within the mid section or the red section, if you will, of Assembly Hall, away from the corners where the metal had dislodged this afternoon. So, again, I talked to David Brandon about that, and my understanding is Michigan is on their way to Bloomington.
I should also mention that we appreciate the generosity of trustee Jim Morris, the president of the Indiana Pacers who offered to have the game played, the men’s basketball game against Iowa played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After consultation with our events staff, we concluded logistically that’s not anything we could put together on 24 or even 48 hours notice. We understood the appeal of potentially having Iowa be able to play even while they were still here, even if delayed a little bit, but because of the uncertainty of returning to Assembly Hall and the logistical challenges of playing in Bankers Life Fieldhouse we respectfully declined the Pacers offer, but we appreciate it very much.
In terms of what happened, we’re still trying to sort that out. But we’ve had the benefit of having not only the chief engineer of Indiana University review the situation both internally at Assembly Hall and actually physically just returned from the roof, and I just got a report from him. We also had two external structural engineers make a preliminary view of the situation. Fink, Roberts & Petrie are the structural engineers hired for the renovation.
Again, as I mentioned, they were here at Assembly Hall, and they were able to make a visual inspection of what happened, and then the folks from RC Engineering who are our ongoing structural engineers for Assembly Hall, and I assume other aspects of the university also took part, and they had representatives on the roof inspection today too.
So we have some preliminary feedback on sort of what went wrong and what happened, but I want to really emphasize that it’s preliminary and subject to change once they get up and make a more immediate visual and physical interaction with this facing that’s in Assembly Hall. It’s 10 feet in the air, so it’s not the easiest thing to access. We’ve had to call in special equipment from Indianapolis to be able to physically, I assume it’s like a cherry picker, something like that, to get up close to the facing.
So I’m not an engineer, so bear with me. But in the four corners of Assembly Hall there is a facing of steel plating that runs basically from each side up until the middle at a mild curve, if you will. The preliminary assessment is that with the snow and ice accumulation, it’s settled at the lowest point in that curve in such a magnitude that it essentially popped that bottom plate off and there is about an eight foot by one foot piece of metal, it weighs about 50 pounds, popped off that facing.
So we think that the issue is limited to the plate that is at that whatever inverted apex is the bottom of that curve in each one of the four corners of Assembly Hall. Of course we’re going to be inspecting all the plating on all that facing and not limiting it to the three remaining pieces of plating at those three bottom portions of the curve. But that’s the preliminary assessment from the engineers.
I’m also advised that the plating is actually ornamental. That it serves no structural purpose, so a preliminary view is that which we may just remove all that plating or maybe just, if any is loose, we’ll get the details from the engineer. But, again, the preliminary assessment is that it’s a fairly focused issue, but we’ll be doing a complete review from top to bottom of those areas of Assembly Hall.
So that’s a lot of information. Maybe I’ll stop and take a breath there, and I’d be happy to entertain questions, and Tom Morrison and Tom Crean are also available if anybody has any questions for them.
Q. Coach, where were you at the time and what did you observe?
COACH CREAN: Well, first it was behind closed doors. We were getting ready for our walk through and putting the finishing touches on what we wanted to accomplish there, and I didn’t have my phone with me at first. When I got my phone, I responded to Fred’s voicemail and text right away and literally dropped what we were doing and got to the gym as quick as possible.
Obviously, it’s a very tough situation to look at. You feel bad for everybody involved, but at the same time you look at it and you just absolutely realize that an incredible, tragic crisis was averted. So you have to look at it from that lens. At that point in time we did everything we could do to be supportive, look at what the contingency plan would be before we met with the team, and decided to go forward and have practice and treat it like it’s a day before a game practice, not knowing if it would be or not, and continue on the way we would have.
Q. You mentioned that you declined the Pacers offer to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. What was the communication process as far as talking with Iowa about that, and did they have any sort of say or input as far as supporting your decision on that?
FRED GLASS: Jim Morris contacted my office, but my phone went down because I was out doing things and my secretary reached out to me and said, hey, Jim’s calling and here’s the offer. So I pow wowed with our event staff to make that work logistically and all of that. But the feeling was on a 24 to 48 hour turn around, that just didn’t make sense.
Iowa was open to playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse if it worked. I mean, they were here and would have been happy to stay and that normally would have made sense if we were able to preplan that. But as the host, I think it was our responsibility to key side whether we host a Big Ten game on that short notice and my conclusion based on advice from our event staff was that we could not.
Q. Will there be a complete assessment of the roof area of Assembly Hall? I’m sure it’s fairly worrisome that you’d have that much ice accumulation and perhaps snow that it would cause this to happen. How will you go about looking at the structural integrity of that area?
FRED GLASS: Let me try that, and Tom (Morrison) will undoubtedly have a better, more informed response. We at the University examine the roof structure here, particularly because of its unique nature, every other year. So it’s on a regular inspection schedule. Ironically, I guess, we had our most recent inspection late summer or early fall of this year.
Again, the preliminary report from the engineers, and I hesitate to get into preliminaries, but I know you guys will ask me, so I will tell you what I know, is that the popping off of this wasn’t from a corrosive, long term event; it was more of a traumatic, immediate event.
The load that this roof has had to take has been pretty unusual. Everybody knows the snow and ice and cold conditions that we’ve had. So from interacting with Tom Morrison, I think we’re fairly or quite comfortable that the appropriate inspections are being made, and it will be even better after this round with the structural engineers. But it doesn’t sound like this was a long term maintenance issue, but rather a traumatic event connected with an immediate weather situation.
TOM MORRISON: We did just complete last summer the annual review of the roof structure here. It’s something we do on a regular basis. The roof itself was replaced about three years ago, so it’s a new roof. This condition that occurred, occurred at the joint between the roof and the north wall. As Fred said, we believe preliminarily it’s a weather issue related to the amount of snow and ice that’s up there.
Looking forward, as we look into renovations ironically, and again we were just talking about this today, is that we’ll be engaging structural engineers to do a complete assessment of the roof structure for all of those types of elements.
The roof is designed and every roof is designed to have some give to it, and this one did, but the amount of weight that’s up there is somewhat exceptional.
Q. You mentioned the logistics. I guess elaborate on that. What all would have to be done and what makes it impossible to do?
FRED GLASS: Well, we have all of our season ticket holders who would have to transfer their seating arrangement here to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It’s not all apples to apples. People have scheduled their lives to some extent around when the game is going to be, and it would be very short notice that the game is turning around on a couple day’s notice. Just the collective efforts that need to go in to putting on a Big Ten game, our event staff felt like we couldn’t do it in a way that they were comfortable with.
Q. Considering the way the weather has warmed up over the past couple days, is there any chance that the weight of the snow plus the temperature affected the elasticity of the roof?
TOM MORRISON: Sure. Again, preliminarily it looks like it’s a weather event. Sure, you could make the case that today we’ve gone from what’s been an extended, long period of extreme cold, a lot of snow, and everything started to melt today, and that immediately gets heavier. So, sure, that is something that the engineers are certainly looking at.
As Fred said, they’ve now been able to do some visual inspection inside and they’ve been out on the roof tonight looking at that. And they did find that there is a high level of snow and ice in the low point of that curve. It’s a scooped roof, so at the low point is where it is.
I can report from the engineers that the drains are working. Our concern initially was that the drains were frozen. Like everything else you’ve seen in your homes, the gutters are freezing. The drains are working, but it’s going to be slow. There is an awful lot up there.
Q. When do you anticipate being able to have a final answer that the building is solid and games can continue?
TOM MORRISON: We’ll be bringing in a piece of equipment tomorrow that will, as Fred said, basically a lift that we’ll put on the floor of Assembly Hall. It’s about 100 feet in the air, so we’ll go up there and visually and physically look at all of those fascia panels. If they need to come off, they’ll come off. That is the good news. The good news is that the solution to the problem that we know of right now is just to take those pieces off if they are loose or they’re not tight.
So we believe that potentially by noon tomorrow, assuming the equipment gets here in the morning and the engineers can get a look at it, by noon tomorrow we’ll know our status. But as Fred noted, we feel comfortable that the women’s basketball game tomorrow night, given the constraints in the seating, because we’ve got the problem fairly isolated.
Q. So by tomorrow night fans may know whether or not the regularly scheduled men’s game will go on as scheduled?
FRED GLASS: I don’t want to hedge, but we don’t know what we don’t know with the engineering review. But our hope is we’ll have enough information after they get in and confirm some of these preliminary beliefs as to what the issue is. That as early as tomorrow we could confirm that our next regularly scheduled game will be able to be held in Assembly Hall.
Now, that could change depending on what the engineers find out or find out they don’t know. But, again, I would say that I hope as early as tomorrow we could confirm when our next regularly scheduled game is. We’re continuing to work with Iowa on when we’d schedule the postponed game. We are planning to have the women’s game in with the limited seating. It’s possible that we might have the situation corrected to the extent that there wouldn’t be seating limitations for the women’s game tomorrow if, indeed, we take all those panels down and get the all clear from the engineer. But one way or another, seating capacity limited or seating capacity not limited, we’ll have the women’s game tomorrow.
Q. You’ve been talking about the planned renovation. Did this set that back at all, or is it too early to know?
FRED GLASS: No, I don’t think so. Like I said, we were meeting with our team today. We’re off and running with that. It probably underscores the value of even more detailed structural review here, not only on something as dramatic as what happened today, but stress tests on our HVA system, our electrical system, our fire alarm system, all those things. I think, if anything, it underscores the need to do that and that we’re grateful that we can move forward with that.
Q. Fred, if you are not able to play here, what are some of the options you may look at?
FRED GLASS: I hate to get too far down the road, but there are venues in the state that we’d consider. But at least based on what the preliminary findings are today, I’m optimistic we’ll be able to have this game here.
Q. You touched on it a little, just the timing. Can you kind of expand on that, the fact that nobody was in there at the time?
FRED GLASS: Absolutely. I think Tom’s first comment was the glass is half full or the glass is half empty, and this glass is half full because nobody got hurt. All this other stuff is manageable and thank God we’re not here talking about a really serious situation. So if it had to happen, I’m glad it happened the way it did.
We’re taking it extremely seriously. The safety of our fans, players, visitors is paramount in our mind, and everything else takes a back seat to that.
Q. Did the president stop by this afternoon to check on the damage as well or what did he say about this?
FRED GLASS: I notified him immediately, even before we had made the judgment to postpone the game. He was very engaged the whole time. I kept him advised of the developments as they went along. Then he made a personal visit over here today probably around 6:00 as his schedule allowed. Wanted to walk through every detail and get the report from the engineers. Looked at the piece of metal that had come down, and has continued to make sure that Tom and I keep him advised. So he’s been very engaged. His reaction was much like I think all of ours were, thank goodness this wasn’t a tragedy.
Q. Do you think that you won’t be able to reschedule the Iowa game?
FRED GLASS: No, we’re working back and forth with Iowa on that, and, again, I’m optimistic we’ll get that concluded within the 72 hour window.
Q. Do you have a set time that you might feel comfortable going back in there or what sort of assurance do you need?
COACH CREAN: Oh, we’ll just wait for the direction. But I think we’d feel fine doing that tonight, to be honest with you. It’s very isolated. I’ve learned a lot today. Stuff I never thought I’d have to learn, but I’m really fortunate, as we all are, to have the team of people at Indiana, Tom, all of the engineers who were there, and everybody that’s part of Fred’s team with Fred, it’s just learned a lot. I would think just walking back in there a little bit ago before this that we’d feel very comfortable with that. I don’t think there are any issues with that. I think it’s so isolated.
Again, we’ll wait until everybody says it is isolated, but it certainly appears that way. I’d hope we could be back as soon as the next time we’re ready to practice.
We’ll have to make some decisions based on that now. Like I said, we practiced tonight with the thought that we could play tomorrow. Right up to the point of having our pregame meal and our pregame speaker in there, Jim Harbaugh was in there speaking to the team. We just tried to stay business as usual as much as we can. Our guys would have been comfortable playing anywhere today. They were ready to go. We just have to try to temper that and get ready for the next situation whether it’s Iowa before, whether it’s Northwestern, whatever it is. I thought our guys along with everybody at Indiana just moved right on to exactly what had to be done at that particular moment. Very, very professionally done.
FRED GLASS: Just to follow up on that, because it’s hard at least for me, if I hadn’t seen it, to visualize where this is in there, and I know you guys will all have access after this and take all the pictures and stuff that you’d like to, but early on we got the all clear from the engineer that the floor was fine. We could have practice on the floor. We could have had a game there if there were no fans there. So the floor area is in really good shape. The fact that the roof itself is almost well, it’s new within three years, and it had been inspected recently, gives us a great deal of comfort there.
These metal things are on the side wall and the seats that were hit were probably two or three seats right next to the wall. So without minimizing it in anyway, it is fairly isolated. So right now we have roped off the four blue corners, if you will, and the end zone bleachers. The engineers, both our head engineer at IU internal and the two structural engineers have given us an all clear on the areas other than the ones I just mentioned. That’s why we’re comfortable going forward with the women’s game and committing to our friends at Michigan to come on down for that game tomorrow.
Q. You mentioned working with Iowa on a make up date. If you guys are able to come to an agreement on that and you’re told tomorrow what you’re hoping to hear about the arena that you’re good to go, would the make up game be here at Assembly Hall then or would you be open to playing it elsewhere?
FRED GLASS: Our expectation is that we’ll be able to have it as a home game. If unexpectedly this is different than we think it is now and we’re shut down for the rest of the year, then I think we’d look at every contingency, including that one.
Q. So as you know right now Assembly Hall, there are no structural issues per se? Am I understanding that correctly?
TOM MORRISON: Preliminarily, yes. The engineer just before we walked in here the engineers gave me the point that it is not critical. It appears to be an isolated case to those areas where the roof meets or the ceiling meets the wall. So, no. There is nothing. That was one of the questions we asked as soon as they came back down from being up there. Did you see anything that causes us concern in terms of the structural viability of the building or the structural viability of the roof itself, and the answer was no.
Q. And if you had to get rid of all the metal plating, is that something you could do today?
TOM MORRISON: Too early to tell. We have to get the piece of equipment in here, get it up there, see if we can reach it, know what it’s going to take to take those off. It’s a little bit of uncharted territory. Our university engineer did tell me a little bit ago that he thinks the process could go quickly, but too early to tell until we get up there tomorrow morning.
FRED GLASS: We want to go as quickly as can, but it’s all about safety first. So we’ve emphasized that we can handle some uncertainty. We are working around the clock. We’re moving this equipment overnight. We’ve had the engineer. The external engineer from Indianapolis come down, so we’re pulling out all the stops and we’re going to move forward as quickly as possible, but the main thing is we’re going to get it right, more importantly than getting it wrong.
Q. Is there an estimate of cost of all of this?
FRED GLASS: No, not yet. That is the least concern at the moment. At some point we’ll tally what all of this costs, but it’s not anything we’re thinking about.
Q. How does this shape up in terms of schedule? You never know when you can fit this game in?
COACH CREAN: I don’t think there is any question about that. When you look at our schedule, their schedule, and look at where the possibilities could be without having any true idea to this point, there is going to be no way around that. So bottom line is you just adjust, and that’s what we’ve done today our guys were extremely ready to play in that sense to be where we needed to be to have that mindset going into the game tonight. I’m disappointed we didn’t get to do that. But that pales in comparison to what any of us would have felt like at 9:30, 10:00 tonight if something would have happened inside that building, and that is exactly how I said it to the players after practice.
I mean, you have to keep something like this in absolute perspective while you’re making your adjustments and contingency plans ahead. It’s all part of the resiliency. Just go do what you have to do when it’s time to do it.
Q. Have you faced postponements before?
COACH CREAN: That’s a good question. I think at one point weatherwise, Marquette potentially. But I’m not a hundred percent certain, maybe early on.