Indiana has hosted National Invitation Tournament games before. It did so in 1979 (on its way to the tournament championship), in 1985 and as recently as 2005. But given the right to host Georgia Tech as the higher-seeded team in the first round of this year’s tournament, Indiana officials declined and allowed Tuesday night’s game to be played in Atlanta.
Multiple reasons were given. First, ESPN reported that Assembly Hall was being renovated. Then Indiana said that wasn’t true, and that the real reason it didn’t want to host an NIT game was because its students were on spring break (even though 11 of the 16 designated NIT hosts are on spring break). Finally, Hoosiers Athletic Director Fred Glass came clean: Hosting an NIT game is beneath them.
AD Glass - "Assembly Hall is iconic. You've gotta be careful not to devalue it"— Josh Margolis (@MargolisNews) March 13, 2017
I would counter by saying the Dec. 28 home loss to a Nebraska team that finished 12-19 devalued the arena perhaps a little bit more, but agree to disagree.
Glass told the Indianapolis Star’s Gregg Doyel that the decision not to host an NIT game wasn’t made Sunday night, when the field was announced. It was made two weeks ago, when NIT officials contacted potential participants about the availability of their arenas.
Discussing possible NIT bids before the end of the regular season: Such is the state of Hoosiers basketball under Coach Tom Crean, whose nine-season run in Bloomington could indeed be over after a season in which Indiana reached No. 3 in the AP poll in late November but was out of the top 25 entirely by early January. The second half of the season was bad enough; hosting an NIT game in which those who did show up likely would have done so to boo Crean out the door would have been unacceptable.
In any case, wearing white jerseys as the “home” team Tuesday night, Indiana promptly found itself in a 17-4 hole and its season ended with a 75-63 loss at Georgia Tech. The Hoosiers no longer have to worry about hosting embarrassing home games and now have to figure out what to do with Crean. Perhaps they’ll announce something after Thursday night, when the Indiana women’s team hosts Ball State at Assembly Hall.
In the NIT.