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Men's college basketball briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001


Knight's trial starts in Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- When word of a lawsuit about the firing of Indiana coach Bob Knight first got out, the response was predictable: It's time for those Hoosiers to move on.

Since then, however, it's become clear the suit is not an attempt to bring back a fallen icon, but an accusation that the university's firing of Knight broke state law.

Attorneys met in a Monroe County (Ind.) court for the first time Friday.

"We don't disagree so much with what happened as we do with how it happened," said Gojko Kasich, who represents the 46 plaintiffs in the case, mostly Indiana grads from across the country.

The plaintiffs claim that the day before Knight was fired, university president Myles Brand skirted the state's open meetings law by speaking to two separate groups of four IU trustees. The ninth trustee was out of the country at the time.

A meeting in which there's a quorum -- more than four of the nine trustees -- requires 48 hours advance notice from the university.

IU officials said the meetings Sept. 9 did not trigger the open meetings law because less than half the trustees met with Brand at any one time. The president has openly admitted the meetings were held separately to avoid having a quorum.

"If you're smart, you can avoid the open door law and never get caught. It happens all the time," Kasich told Clark Superior Court Judge Cecile Blau, appointed to the case by the Indiana Supreme Court. "But these people came out on television and said they did it."

Knight was fired Sept. 10 after Brand said the coach violated a "zero-tolerance" behavior policy imposed in May. The university says a 1987 board of trustees act gave the president sole authority to fire the controversial coach.

But in court documents, Kasich argues that Brand's authority to fire Knight without authorization from the trustees is not clear. He also questions whether Brand's mind was made up before he met with the trustees on Sept. 9.

In court documents, IU says Brand also met with the men's basketball team on Sept. 9 and told them Knight's status with the university had not been decided.

"Plaintiffs are left confused by these admissions," Kasich wrote in his brief. "If Brand made his decision before the meeting with the Trustees, why did he tell the 11 young men who represent Indiana University, and who had contractual obligations with Indiana University, that he had not yet made a decision."

IU counsel Ellen Boshkoff said none of this is relevant to the case.

"The case is not about why president Brand decided to end Bob Knight's coaching program," she said. "Whatever the reasons were, they don't change the fact that only four trustees were present during these conversations."

In Friday's hearing, the university argued for a protective order that would keep the plaintiffs from deposing Brand and the trustees. Boshkoff said IU had already answered many of the plaintiffs' questions and was prepared to give them 18 years worth of minutes from trustee meetings along with other related materials.

Kasich said that's not enough.

"I feel really almost insulted that the trustees think they have the right to tell me what I need as evidence," Kasich told the judge.

Stanford-UCLA: One for the books

LOS ANGELES -- Set the VCR and save your ticket stubs, because today's UCLA-Stanford showdown (4 p.m., Ch. 10) could be the last meaningful regular-season game in college basketball history.

Sound overly dramatic?

Consider that the Pac-10 is the only major conference that doesn't decide its champion with a season-ending tournament. That all changes next season when the league tournament is reinstated, leaving the Ivy League as the lone holdout.

" I guess that makes this game kind of historic," said Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, whose top-ranked team is looking to avenge its only loss. "Isn't that a shame? It could be a situation where you never play another game that actually means anything, because winning the conference will be secondary and the conference tournament is what it's going to be about. That's sad. I'm not a proponent of the conference tournament at all."

Regardless, it's coming. And that makes today's game that much more significant. Not that it needs more hype. This will be the last home game for UCLA senior Earl Watson, on track to become the first player in school history to start every game for four years. The Bruins have a chance to knock off a top-ranked Stanford team for the third time in 13 months -- and possibly collect a league title in the process.

"This is something that will be played on Classic Sports for the next 10 or 20 years," UCLA forward Jason Kapono said. "We've just got to come out and have fun."

No. 12 UCLA (20-6, 13-2 in the Pac-10) has won 16 of 18 games and eight in a row, a streak that began last month with the victory at Palo Alto.

Stanford, vying for its third conference title in a row, has won four in a row at Pauley Pavilion.

TAAC tournament

TROY STATE 78, STETSON 69: Robert Rushing scored six of his 15 in the final 2:17 and Lemayn Wilson had 25 to lead the Trojans past the Hatters in the semifinals in Atlanta.

The victory sends No. 2-seed Troy State into today's title game against regular-season champion Georgia State, which beat Samford 66-56 in the other semifinal.

Around the nation

FIU 59, DENVER 52: Carlos Arroyo scored 17, had seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Panthers in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

Florida International plays the East Division's top-seed Western Kentucky tonight.

Haven Jackson scored 15 and Karel Rosario had 12 to help advance FIU to the next round.

Arroyo also made 3 of 9 three-pointers and had three steals.

ADELPHI 75, C.W. POST 54: Ryan McCormack scored 20 as the undefeated Panthers won in the semifinals of the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, extending an NCAA-best winning streak to 28 games.

SAINT LEO: Coach Mike Hanks announced his resignation after five seasons with the Division II school. Hanks compiled a 66-70 record. The Lions were 12-15 this season.

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