BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The roof literally caved in on Indiana.
The Hoosiers’ game against No. 15 Iowa was postponed Tuesday after an 8-foot-long, 50-pound piece of metal inside Assembly Hall fell from the ceiling into empty seats in the northwest corner of the arena.
No makeup date was announced and parts of the building’s four corners were roped off as engineers inspected metal plates around the rest of the building.
Three hours after announcing the postponement, athletic director Fred Glass said the teams could have played the game, but only if fans were kept out. The Hoosiers also briefly considered moving the game to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis later this week.
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Glass said he was told the harsh winter was the culprit.
“The preliminary assessment is that with the snow and ice, it settled at the lowest point in that curve at such a magnitude that it basically popped that bottom plate off,” Glass said. “I’m also advised that the plating is actually ornamental and it serves no structural purpose. So what we may do is just remove all that plating.”
For Indiana (14-11 overall, 4-8 Big Ten), it was another strange twist in a season that has seemingly gotten rougher by the day.
The defending conference champions are stuck in 10th place.
Since upsetting then-No. 10 Michigan on Feb. 2, the Hoosiers have lost three straight — blowing a six-point halftime lead at Minnesota, a late double-digit lead against Penn State, and then a game when they couldn’t inbound the ball before getting blown out Saturday at rival Purdue.
Assembly Hall, which opened in 1971, seats more than 17,000.
Glass said the Hoosiers asked engineers and outside experts to inspect the premises after the 14-inch-wide piece crashed into the seats about six hours before tip-off. Engineers advised school officials not to host any events until a cause could be determined.
Later, during an early evening news conference, Glass said Wednesday night’s women’s game against Michigan will be played as scheduled because fans could be kept out of the affected seats.
Iowa AD Gary Barta said his team was reluctantly heading home, and that he would work with Glass and Big Ten officials to come up with a new game date, and possibly a different venue for the Hoosiers and third-place Hawkeyes (19-6, 8-4).
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