Local Sports News: April 12, 2024

Indiana University Football Great and 2011 Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Jade Butcher passes away at age 76
Just a month after his fellow offensive star featured on IU’s last Rose Bowl team, Jade Butcher has passed away at age 76. Considered one of the top receivers to ever play for Indiana, Butcher was a 1969 first team All-American. Butcher was a key piece of the 1967 Hoosier squad.  He helped lead a Hoosier offense that marched all the way to the Rose Bowl and turned in a 9-2 season.  His teammate and fellow IU Hall of Famer John Isenbarger passed a month ago.

A Bloomington native, Butcher graduated from Bloomington High School in 1965 and was an All-State football on unbeaten Bloomington High School Team with 29 Touchdowns in 29 high school games. Butcher was all sectional in Basketball. Butcher was a two-time All-Big Ten selection for the Hoosiers, earning the distinctions following his junior and senior seasons. Butcher is second on the all-time list in receiving touchdowns for the Hoosiers, with 30 catches for scores in his three-year career.  His trio of 10-touchdown reception seasons in 1967, 1968 and 1969 are tied for the fourth best seasons all-time. In his first team All-American final season, Butcher produced 37 receptions for 552 yards and 10 touchdowns and participated in the North-South Game and Hula Bowl following the year. Butcher led the Hoosiers in receiving all three years he played at IU.

Butcher and the late James Hardy are the only Hoosiers to have scored 10 touchdowns or more in more than one season. He held Indiana records for passes received (119) and reception yardage (1,919), touchdowns (30) and points (180) at end of his career, and also held IU season records for touchdowns (10, all three years).  He set a then Big Ten record with 30 career touchdown catches. Butcher was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1970 and Inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 as part of its charter class.

Indiana University Football announces details for Annual Spring Game
Indiana fans will get their first look at new head coach Curt Cignetti’s Hoosiers in the upcoming spring game. Indiana’s spring football game is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 at 8 pm at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, with Matt Schumacker (play-by-play), Rhett Lewis (analyst) and Pat Boylan (sideline) on the call. Indiana will follow a different set of rules compared to a typical college football game. The roster will be split between the defense and offense, and those sides will compete against each other, as opposed to two teams with both offensive and defensive players.

The game will also utilize a unique scoring format, which gives the defense an opportunity to score in ways other than a touchdown. Touchdown – 6 points Extra Point – 1 point Field Goal – 3 points Turnover Gained – 4 points Defensive Stop – 3 points Safety – 2 points

The event is free to the public with a clear bag policy, and parking is available in in Lot 2, Lot 4 and Lot 12. Indiana’s spring game marks the end of its spring practice session, which has spanned roughly one month. Cignetti was hired on Nov. 30 as the 30th head coach in program history, replacing Tom Allen after a 3-9 season in 2023 and a 33-49 run across seven full seasons. Cignetti is coming off an 11-1 season at James Madison in 2023, contributing to his 52-9 record across five seasons coaching the Dukes. He brought several assistant coaches with him from James Madison, but also retained offensive line coach Bob Bostad and made a few outside hires. Indiana’s 2024 roster already looks far different from the 2023 season, as 24 players transferred out and 22 new Hoosiers transferred in, in addition to a 17-player freshman class. The transfer portal opens again from April 16-30, which could lead to even more roster changes. 

Hoosiers Connect to host event at Huber’s Winery to benefit NIL
Hoosiers Connect, an NIL collective for IU Athletics, will host an event on Wednesday, May 29 at Huber’s Winery in Borden, Indiana. Mike Woodson and Curt Cignetti are expected to attend and speak at the event. Last year, Hoosiers For Good organized the event Huber’s Winery. The long standing gathering of IU fans was run by the IU Varsity club prior to the NIL era.

According to the event details on the Hoosiers Connect site, “This special event for the southern Indiana & Louisville Hoosier communities will feature coaches and players from Indiana’s men’s and women’s basketball and football programs, autographs, and a live auction with exclusive experiences and items. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) at IU.” Doors will open at 5:30pm with a dinner and program beginning at 6pm. The cost is $50 per person. Registration can be completed here.

Matthew Graves Named Head Coach of Indiana State Men’s Basketball
Indiana State University officially announced that Matthew Graves will be the 27th men’s basketball head coach in program history on Thursday in a release. Graves will be introduced at a press conference this morning at 11am in Hulman Center. Indiana State University President Dr. Deborah Curtis said in a statement, “Coach Graves has proven himself to be a well-respected member of the Sycamore men’s basketball staff over the last three years, and we are confident in his ability to lead our team.”

Graves was named the interim head coach of the Sycamores last week following the departure of Josh Schertz to Saint Louis. Prior to that, he was the associate head coach at ISU since 2021. He was the Head Coach at South Alabama from 2013-2018 with assistant stops at Butler (2000-2013), Evansville (2018-2019), and Xavier (2019-2021). “I am very excited and appreciative about this opportunity to be the head men’s basketball coach at Indiana State University,” Graves said in the release. “I would like to thank President Curtis and Angie Lansing for their tremendous confidence in me and working judiciously under the unique circumstances in this hiring process. My wife, Susan, and our two daughters, Abby & Lily, are looking forward to embracing the Wabash Valley community for many years to come. Let’s Go Sycamores!”

2024 Indiana All Stars Boys Basketball Team named
This year’s boys IndyStar Indiana All-Stars basketball team is accustomed to winning. On the 13-player roster, there are three state champions from this season; another won a title a year ago. Five players were a state runner-up at some point in their career. All-Stars director Mike Broughton hopes all of that winning pays off for the squad of seniors in the annual series in June against the Kentucky All-Stars. “This year, my sixth as director, was the most difficult season to pick the Indiana All-Stars,” Broughton said. “In my discussions with many different coaches throughout the state, there were 20 to 25 candidates in competition for the 13 spots. We had many well-deserving athletes this year across Indiana.”

All-Stars who won a state championship this year are Fishers’ Keenan Garner (Class 4A), Scottsburg’s Jack Miller (3A) and Brownstown Central’s Jack Benter (2A). Ben Davis guard K.J. Windham won a 4A state championship last year and was a runner-up this year. Wapahani’s Isaac Andrews (2A this year), Kokomo’s Flory Bidunga and Karson Rogers (4A last year) and Chesterton’s Tyler Parrish (4A in 2022) also played in state championship games.

This year’s Indiana All-Stars will play the Indiana Junior All-Stars on June 5 at Kokomo, followed by the annual doubleheader against the Kentucky All-Stars. Those games will be played on June 7 in Lexington, Ky. (Lexington Catholic High School) and June 8 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Tickets for the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse went on sale this week and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or in person from 12-5 p.m. from Monday through Friday at the fieldhouse box office. In addition to the players listed above, also selected: Westfield guard Trey Buchanan; Franklin guard Micah Davis; Noblesville guard Aaron Fine; Brebeuf Jesuit guard Evan Haywood; and Evansville Memorial forward Tucker Tornatta. “The Kentucky All-Star team was very good last year as juniors,” Broughton said. “The Indiana All-Stars are going to need to be well prepared, unselfish and play very hard.” Kokomo’s John Peckinpaugh will coach the Indiana All-Stars. Peckinpaugh will be assisted by Silver Creek’s Brandon Hoffman and Barr-Reeve’s Josh Thompson.

Indianapolis Indians announce Executive Leadership Positions
The Indianapolis Indians announced Thursday several executive-level promotions to support the organization’s growth, community involvement and direction toward sustained success while maintaining focus on providing fun, affordable entertainment annually to fans at Victory Field. The promotions are effective immediately. Bruce Schumacher, who assumed duties as Indians Chairman of the Board and CEO in 2016, is in his 42nd season with the team. In his seven-year tenure as CEO, he guided the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping all full-time staff employed, and also developed a cohesive, long-term partnership with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana while continuing the club’s annual ranking as a top five attendance leader in Minor League Baseball. Schumacher also serves as the Indianapolis Indians Control Person with Major League Baseball. As Schumacher hands over CEO responsibilities, he will remain Chairman of the Board.

Randy Lewandowski has been promoted to president and CEO from his previous position of president and general manager. He will oversee all aspects of the organization’s day-to-day operations with an emphasis on business strategy that optimizes the club’s growth, community involvement and financial and operational performance. As the senior leader, strategic planning and fostering a positive and collaborative work environment will position the organization to achieve short- and long-term goals. Overseeing projects to improve Victory Field, managing club operations with the Pittsburgh Pirates and
serving on various Major League Baseball-related committees, acting as the primary liaison with the Indians Board of Directors, Capital Improvement Board, White River State Park, State of Indiana and City of Indianapolis, and serving on numerous Boards including Indy RBI, Indy Chamber and the Indianapolis
Public Safety Foundation, among others, are just a few of the many high-level responsibilities assumed with the position. Lewandowski first joined the Indians as a ticket office intern in 1994 and has held full-time roles as assistant ticket manager, director of operations, assistant general manager and general manager, before becoming president and general manager, in his 31-year tenure. “Randy has shown tremendous commitment to our fans, staff and community and is a proven leader to guide the Indianapolis Indians organization,” said Bruce Schumacher, Indians Chairman of the Board. “His promotion to president and CEO recognizes his contributions to our club’s many successes and positions us well going forward.”

Matt Guay has been promoted to vice president and general manager from his previous position of assistant general manager of tickets and operations. Guay will be responsible for the daily leadership of the Indians full-time staff to establish and promote a positive and inclusive culture of high performance internally and externally to fans and the community. He will continue to provide support to all aspects of ballpark operations, baseball operations and game management along with development and execution of the annual budget and marketing plan. Guay started with the Indians as a ticket intern in 1999 and held many director-level roles overseeing ticket service representatives and account executives in the following years. He became assistant general manager of tickets and operations in 2016 ahead of his new role as vice president and general manager. “Matt has displayed tremendous vision and adaptability to boost ticket sales every season, which often positions our organization to finish in the top five for overall attendance in all of Minor League Baseball,” said Lewandowski. “He has established strong, trustworthy relationships with our staff and is set up to succeed as the primary lead for employees for years to come.”

Joel Zawacki has been promoted to vice president and chief commercial officer from his previous role of assistant general manager of corporate sales and marketing. Zawacki will bring strategic, proactive and analytical approach to all facets of the club’s revenue and business development, with an emphasis on
innovation, prospecting, securing and renewing partnerships at the local and regional level. Primary responsibilities include the development of strategic plans to maximize revenue, guide revenue teams to achieve sales targets, lead the vision for Indianapolis Indians Charities and provide direction for the
team’s brand and identity that will stand the test of time. Zawacki joined the organization in 2007 as sponsorship sales coordinator and was promoted to director of corporate partnerships in 2008 before adding marketing to his duties in 2012. He was appointed as assistant general manager of corporate sales and marketing in 2016 before assuming his latest role as vice president and chief commercial officer. “Joel has provided exceptional leadership for the corporate sales and marketing teams to meet and exceed their annual goals, dedicates time and energy to the direction of the organization’s overall brand identity, and uplifts Indianapolis Indians Charities’ community efforts through event planning and execution,” said Lewandowski. “His skillset has him built to succeed in his new role as vice president and chief commercial officer to maximize our business opportunities.”

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