Thank you, Mark.
I really am deeply honored to be inducted as an honorary member of the I-Association, and to join former IU presidents Herman Wells, Elvis Stahr, and John Ryan as honorary members of this prestigious group.
I would like to most gratefully thank the I-Association Board of Directors for this honor. For more than 100 years, the I-Association has helped to bring together former IU athletes and others in support of what is one of the nation’s most storied intercollegiate athletics programs.
I am also honored to be inducted as an honorary member of the Association on the same evening that my wife, Laurie, is inducted. Laurie and I have attended many IU athletic events together—including at least one event for all 24 sports that we attended in 2012. We have both been enormously impressed by the passion and commitment we have witnessed among IU’s student-athletes, past and present, in all 24 sports.
I want to extend my congratulations to the 50-Year I-Men who are being honored tonight. It is an honor to be here with them, and with so many of the former athletes, coaches, and others who have contributed so much to the success of Indiana University athletics and to the wonderful IU traditions that have endured for more than a century.
The Hallmarks of Indiana University Athletics
As I have said many times to audiences around the world, American intercollegiate athletics is the glue that binds hundreds of thousands of alumni—in IU’s case, approximately 700,000 living graduates—to the university long after they have moved far away and pursued a wide range of careers. No matter where I go around the world, IU alumni and friends are eager to hear about the most recent accomplishments of IU’s student-athletes.
IU's athletic programs have also long reflected the deeply-rooted values of our university community: integrity, a commitment to academic excellence, perseverance in the face of adversity, and a commitment to working hard and to working as part of a team. These are hallmarks of Indiana athletics.
Since my first days as president of IU, I have consistently stressed that our first priority with regard to athletics must be that we remain vigilant at every level to ensure that we comply with all NCAA, Big Ten, and Indiana University rules and policies. The love of sport and winning must never sacrifice integrity. We have seen far too many examples of programs and institutions where integrity has been sacrificed and we must not let that happen at Indiana University.
I want to strongly commend IU's Director of Athletics, Fred Glass, for his outstanding commitment to our student-athletes, to the necessity of compliance, to academic achievement, and to the ideals of athletic excellence. I also commend Fred’s vision in seeing the necessity for the new programs and policies represented in the groundbreaking IU Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, which we adopted in the summer of 2014. This document is a proactive step that demonstrates and renews our commitment to providing a safe, rewarding, and equitable environment for IU student-athletes as they pursue their education—and it has become a model that other universities have followed.
It is important to remember, of course, that in all sports at Indiana University, our athletes are, and always will be, students as well as athletes. I am proud to note that, this year, IU had a record number of 68 IU student-athletes who earned the distinction of being honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars.
Mark mentioned the tremendous growth IU Athletics has seen in the last decade in terms of its facilities. These splendid new and wonderfully renovated facilities have been made possible, in large part, through generous gifts from alumni and friends—for which Indiana University is most sincerely grateful. I have been honored to have been able to approve them during my presidency.
I also must note that IU Athletics made a historic contribution to what has quickly become one of the iconic academic facilities here on the Bloomington campus. In 2015, we dedicated the new Global and International Studies Building, home to IU’s School of Global and International Studies. Half of the funding for the building came from IU’s Big Ten Network revenues, representing, by far, the largest commitment ever from athletics revenue to support IU’s core academic mission, and one of the largest such commitments ever in the nation.
Let me once again say how deeply grateful I am to be inducted as an honorary member of the I-Association.
Let me express, once again, my congratulations to the 50-Year I-Men being honored tonight, and my most grateful thanks to Mark Deal, to the association’s board of directors, and to all of you for being here tonight.
Thank you very much.