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Men's college basketball briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001

Knight sets Thursday visit to Texas Tech

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Deposed Indiana coach Bob Knight, the only candidate for the Texas Tech position, plans to visit Lubbock on Thursday, athletic director Gerald Myers said Sunday.

Myers said he planned to talk with Knight before then about contract terms.

"We really haven't gotten down to the details of all that yet," he said. "We've been thinking about what we could do."

The coach's salary comes from ticket sales, TV contracts, conference revenues and booster club funds. State law prohibits using state funds to pay coaches.

Knight, whose 29-year run at Indiana included three national championships and 11 Big Ten titles, was fired in September for violating a "zero-tolerance" behavior policy. Among other problems, the Hall of Fame coach grabbed the arm of a freshman who called him by his last name.

The zero-tolerance rule was imposed after a university investigation turned up a videotape that showed Knight putting his hand around a former player's neck.

Myers said behavior would not be addressed in a contract at Texas Tech.

"This will be a normal employment contract," he said. "I know Coach Knight real well. We've been friends for a long number of years. I think the relationship I have with him, I can talk to him about any issues or anything that may come up."

No offer can be made until at least March 23 because state law mandates the position be open for 10 working days.

The job became available Friday when Tech fired 10-year coach James Dickey, who went 9-19 this season.

Knight's lawyer, Russell Yates of Denver, did not return a call to his office seeking comment on Knight's plans.

But Myers is hopeful. "I think he would have to be pretty interested to come out for a visit," he said.

Knight's wife is expected to join him on the trip.

James Sowell of Dallas, chairman of Texas Tech's Board of Regents, said he probably will attend the meeting with Knight. Sowell said he told Myers he also wants to have three or four other candidates lined up.

The chairman said he has not spoken with any of the other eight regents, who would have to approve a hiring recommendation from Myers. He declined to say how he might vote.

He said though Knight is an outstanding coach, he also brings "questions about his temper, his anger and his language."

But Sowell believes some of the problem might have been overblown, and he pointed out some of Knight's strong suits: no major NCAA violations, a high graduation rate.

"I think if a guy was an embarrassment to the university, that would have come up in 29 years," he said. "I personally wouldn't want anything to happen to the university that would be an embarrassment. But I'm willing to be open-minded."

Sowell waved off criticism that followed news reports that Myers and Tech president David Schmidly met with Knight in Florida four days before firing Dickey.

PITINO PURSUIT: Rick Pitino told that no agreement was reached with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich after their weekend meeting in South Florida.

The Web site also reported that Michigan is expected to fire coach Brian Ellerbe and pursue Pitino.

Jurich met with the former Celtics and Kentucky coach Saturday. Pitino told Jurich he would call him after his work as an analyst for Tuesday's opening-round game of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

"I was really impressed with him," Pitino said. "He has a great passion for winning. It went real well. He was one of the nicest people in the sports world. (Former Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton told me I would feel that way."

However, according to Dick Vitale on the Web site, Pitino is concerned about a backlash among Kentucky fans if he accepted the job with the in-state rival Cardinals. That could open the door for Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, who also is interested in Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker.

PLAYER DIES: North Texas player Marcellus Wright died of colon cancer a month after being diagnosed with the disease. Wright, 21, died Friday night at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in his hometown of Minneapolis.

OBITUARY: Ed O'Connor, a Manhattan College star who led the nation in field-goal shooting in 1955 and was the first player from his school drafted by the NBA, died Wednesday at 68 while vacationing in South Carolina. O'Connor was a high school coach at Hawthorne High School in New Jersey for 37 years before retiring in 1995. The cause of death was not released.

Playing in

Northwestern St. Demons

LOCATION: Natchitoches, La.

COACH: Mike McConathy.

2001 RECORD/NCAAS: 18-12; 0-0.

HOW THEY GOT IN: Southland tournament champs, beat the three teams that finished ahead of them during the regular season.

BEST WIN: McNeese State.

KEY PLAYERS: Michael Byars-Dawson, G, (13.8 ppg); Chris Thompson, F, (11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Josh Hancock, G, (6.5 ppg, 3 apg).

DID YOU KNOW?: Southland teams have lost 15 straight NCAA games.

Winthrop Eagles

LOCATION: Rock Hill, S.C.

COACH: Gregg Marshall.

2001 RECORD/NCAAS: 18-12; 0-2.

HOW THEY GOT IN: Big South champs.

BEST WIN: Regular-season conference champ Radford.

KEY PLAYERS: Marcus Stewart, C, (12.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Derrick Knox, G, (11.5 ppg), Pierre Wooten, G, (8.6 ppg, 3.7 apg).

DID YOU KNOW?: Marshall has guided the Eagles to the NCAAs in his first two seasons. They are the first Big South team to make three straight NCAA appearances.

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