Jasper alum puts stamp on BloomingtonApril 9, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Mick Renneisen can say he saw some great basketball when he went to school in the 1970s.
Renneisen graduated from Jasper in 1975, and played junior varsity. He attended Jasper in the midst of the Wildcats’ five consecutive sectional championships from 1971 to 1975. He had Mike Luegers and Tom Berger as next door neighbors, and grew up playing against them.
Then he attended Indiana University, and has been a fixture around Bloomington ever since that time.
He won a lottery drawing his freshman year of college to earn a trip to the Final Four in Philadelphia. There, he saw his Hoosiers run the table in person and complete an undefeated season as the 1976 national champions.
“I’ve got great memories of that era,” Renneisen said.
He initially dreamt of being a teacher and a coach. Renneisen graduated from IU with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He took a basketball coaching class in 1978 that was taught by Bob Knight himself. However, Indiana had a reduction in teaching staff by the time he graduated, and it wasn’t a good time for him to the enter the teaching market. He decided to stay in Bloomington and pursue a graduate degree instead of taking a middle school job in northern Indiana.
Renneisen got a job in the sports area for the WTIU PBS station in Bloomington, videotaping games and dabbling in production. He got a chance to do color commentary as a broadcaster, but he’s a regular at IU football and men’s basketball games. Renneisen has served as the internal press box announcer for IU football since 1983, and is the team statistician for Indiana’s cagers.
He’s been around a lot of games in his career, but that’s not all he does. Renneisen has been the administrator of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, president of the Indiana Parks & Recreation Association and is currently Bloomington’s Deputy Mayor. What he does at IU is a side job, but he sees himself fortunate.
“I’ve been blessed to have had a chance to do something that I really am passionate about,” he said. “Once given the opportunity, I feel really proud of the fact that I’ve used my parents’ upbringing of whatever you do, do it well and do it to the best of your ability.”
The Hoosiers went on to win the 1987 National Championship and also were runner-up in 2002 after Renneisen began keeping stats. He got to see Jasper’s all-time leading scorer, Michael Lewis, suit up for the red and white from 1996-2000. Lewis set the career assists record for the Hoosiers, a record that has since been broken.
“I thought Mike was a great player,” Renneisen said. “I think he got everything out of his talent when he played at IU. When he broke the record, I told him, I said, ‘Now, just because you’re from Jasper and I’m from Jasper doesn’t mean you got any extra assists,' and he laughed about that.”
However, he’s seen darker spots during his many years around IU athletics, such as Knight’s behavior that led to his 2000 firing that drew national headlines. Renneisen said Knight had a side to him with the incidents people wish wouldn’t have happened, but people didn’t get to see his other side, such as donations to the school library, or visiting people with disabilities in the hospital, without expecting attention for it. He called the General the best professor he had in college.
IU honored Knight at Assembly Hall in February, which Renneisen said everybody wanted to see happen. He couldn’t be there himself, however, because he volunteers every year at golf’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“I took a break from my volunteer duties for an hour, and I watched halftime on my phone while I was out in Pebble Beach just to see that, and it brought tears to my eyes,” he said.
The Hoosiers couldn’t finish their basketball season since the NCAA canceled the March Madness tournament due to COVID-19. Renneisen believes they would’ve been selected to the tournament, and while they had their flaws, he thinks they would’ve been a tough matchup for anybody. Renneisen added IU would’ve won a game with a chance to win a second game.
A lot has changed since he first began keeping statistics. Things are more digital now. He likened it to doing play-by-play for broadcasting. Renneisen has been part of a statistical trio for more than a quarter century, along with Steve Hitzeman and John Decker. Hitzeman used to do road stats, Renneisen home stats and Decker would account for the final entries. Now, with new software, Renneisen does stats, Hitzeman accounts for substitutions, and Decker enters the data onto a touchscreen that produces everything.
People might ask how the trio got into doing what they do, or how they can sign up to do the same thing, but deputy mayor has news for them.
“I’m like, ‘Well, unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait for one of us to want to stop doing it, and none of us can foresee that,’” Renneisen said.
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