Glass, Crean express thoughts on Cook’s passing

Indiana athletics owes a lot to Bill Cook, most notably the basketball practice facility that bears his name. Cook contributed $15 million toward the $20 million building. It was the single biggest donation Indiana athletics has ever received.

But IU athletic director Fred Glass said he got a lot more than just a check from that exchange. Getting to meet and develop a relationship with Cook was even more valuable, Glass said Friday evening after learning of Cook’s passing.

“The coolest thing for me was just to get a chance to meet him,” Glass said. “Even after the gift was complete, we had a few conversations. Not a lot, but it was an acquaintanceship that I really treasured. He and his wife’s gift to the athletic department really helped kick start the Tom Crean era, making Cook Hall what it is today and showing confidence that we were going the right way. His gift led to many other significant gifts. They weren’t as big as Bill’s, but it was obviously that people realized that if Bill Cook thinks this is something he ought to invest in, maybe we ought to as well. When you’re dealing with a guy like that, what can you say? He was something else. I feel lucky just to have known him.”

Cook built a fortune by founding the Bloomington-based medical equipment manufacturer Cook Group, Inc. In September, he was named the No. 101 wealthiest American on the Forbes 400 list with a total estimated worth of $3.1 billion. He spread that wealth around as much as he could, however, and was involved in countless philanthropic projects beyond what he did for IU athletics.

Cook had been dealing with congestive heart failure for several years, but still remained extremely active within the Cook Group and the Bloomington community.

“It sounds trite, but it’s really true with Bill,” Glass said. “He taught us how to live and he taught us how to die. … He’s lived this great life and he rode out his illness with such courage. He was everywhere all the time. He stayed engaged. He lived a lot longer than most people would with his illness. I think the guy is really inspiring both in life and in death.”

Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean expressed his feelings toward Cook via his Twitter account.

“I am stunned and saddened,” he said. “It’s hard to do justice to what he meant to not only this university, community and state but even the world. He was literally a life-changing giant of a man and leader. Not many people can say they made the world a better place because of work they did, but Mr. Cook sure can. The contributions he made will continue to impact lives forever.”

4 comments

  1. Mr. Cook was an awesome Hoosier who will be missed. We could use many more just like him. Sad to see him go.

  2. Among the many other contributions the Cooks have made to the University, the football stadium has lights to play night games. I seem to recall that Bill had lights installed at the stadium so that Bloomington and the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps could host a championship.

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