BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Don Geyra has been buying season tickets to Indiana basketball games for years.
He’s celebrated the good times, survived the bad and still supports his alma mater. These days, he doesn’t like what he sees — a rebuilding team tainted by legal and moral troubles.
“We believe in the team and the tradition, and we’re not happy,” said Geyra, a 61-year-old Bloomington resident. “We pay into the Varsity Club, we pay into the alumni association. We’re not the only ones who are questioning that at this point. But we want very much for things to get on track.”
Geyra found himself in good company Thursday night when the Hoosiers opened up their exhibition season with a 94-70 victory over Northwood.
For most fans, it was their first chance to express an opinion after the shocking events of the past week.
The trouble began early Saturday morning when sophomore forward Devin Davis sustained a traumatic brain injury after freshman forward Emmitt Holt ran into him with a car. According to a police report, both players had been drinking, though they were under the legal age. Police also determined, the report said, that Davis was primarily responsible for the accident because he jumped in front of Holt’s car.
Davis remains hospitalized in Bloomington but has been making steady progress.
“He’s getting a lot of therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and I really appreciate the way our players are not only getting to see him but are spending quality time with him,” coach Tom Crean said after the game. “Yesterday was a big day, he went for two walks.”
On Monday, Crean announced Holt had been given a four-game suspension and that he had also suspended two other players, guard Stanford Robinson and forward Troy Williams, for violating school rules during the summer. They reportedly failed drug tests, though the school has not confirmed those reports.
All three suspended players tracked stats and were allowed to speak briefly to the team at halftime and after the game.
“I want them to learn a lot of things. I want them to learn that not only is it a privilege to play on the court, it’s a privilege to be out there supporting your teammates,” Crean said. “In a team sport, that hurts, too. It hurts when you can’t be out there to support your teammates and be a part of that.”
The recent news, combined with three other arrests of Hoosiers players in February and April, has angered fans and it showed Thursday.
The small crowd inside Assembly Hall applauded like it was a tennis match when the short-handed Hoosiers took the court. And the polite applause during Crean’s introduction drowned out a smattering of boos.
Inside Indiana’s iconic arena, though, one message was clear. Something must change.
“I think the players have to take care of themselves and if they’re doing something bad and it’s their fault, then I don’t really think they should be on scholarship,” said 18-year-old Alexis Wagner of South Bend, Indiana. “I don’t really think its representative of IU for them to be doing illegal things and getting in trouble for that.”
Some blame the players.
Some, like Mike Kelley, a 66-year-old fan from the west side of Indianapolis, believes the allegations of underage drinking and drug use are commonplace on campuses around the nation. He believes the Hoosiers will be just fine if the players are given the proper guidance.
Others blame Crean for allowing thing to run amok and have called for his firing.
But most, including Kelley and Geyra, believe Crean should be given a chance to clean things up.
“It’s a mess, but hopefully we’ll figure it out. Wins erase sins,” said Nathan Blair, a 23-year-old fan from Bloomington. “At the end of the year, I definitely think that will be a question that comes up, and I don’t think there are too many people who would be upset if he did lose his job.”