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Knight seen resuming career

Friends expect him to get several top offers.

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000


To some of Bob Knight's friends, the question isn't whether he'll coach again. The question is what color sweater he'll wear on the sideline.

Knight's 29-year reign at Indiana University ended in his dismissal Sunday. But friends predicted that Knight's Hall of Fame career will resume within a year and that he will break Dean Smith's major-college career victory record of 879 at North Carolina. Knight has 763 wins.

"I'll bet you there will be offers at some of the biggest schools in the country next year that want him," said Knight's mentor, Pete Newell, a retired Hall of Fame coach. "Knowing Bobby, he's not going to go out this way. Indiana thinks they're ruining a career in coaching. I think they're wrong."

On the day IU president Myles Brand fired Knight for repeatedly violating a "zero-tolerance" code of conduct, speculation centered on two fronts. One was Knight's successor. The other was Knight's future.

IU announced that it would name an interim coach and that athletic director Clarence Doninger would form a committee to search for a permanent successor. There were rumblings that some IU players were considering transferring, but Brand said he hoped they would give the next coach a chance. He met with the team Saturday.

There was speculation IU would tap Quinn Buckner, who played for the Hoosiers' unbeaten 1976 national champions and coached the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. But former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps, another Knight friend, said Buckner "would never even think about it unless Knight said, "You be the guy.' Quinn has too much personal loyalty to Knight."

The list of permanent Knight successors is headed by Iowa coach Steve Alford, the Hoosiers' captain when they won the 1987 national championship. He had distanced himself from Knight in recent years, which could make him more palatable to IU officials.

"They should just go ahead and hire Alford," said former Northwestern coach KevinO'Neill, a longtime Knight friend. "That's what they're going to do anyway."

Meantime, in Bloomington, students marched from Assembly Hall to the home of the Indiana University president who had fired the basketball coach.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho. Myles Brand has got to go," some students chanted.

"Burn in hell, Brand," read a banner hanging from a balcony.

Someone ignited an effigy of Kent Harvey, the freshman whose Thursday run-in with Knight at Assembly Hall triggered a weekend of news conferences, investigations and meetings that ended with Knight's dismissal.

Harvey and his two brothers also have been threatened by E-mail and telephone, said their stepfather, Mark Shaw.

But Shaw said all three teens were on campus Sunday and wanted to stay at the school. University officials have said they would do whatever they could to ensure they are safe.

"They don't have anything to hide from. They told the truth," Shaw said.

The news of the firing brought students to the arena where banners celebrate Knight's three national championships. Thousands strong, they marched about a half-mile to the president's home at the heart of the campus while police in riot gear stood watch.

Within the hour of Brand's announcement, car horns blared and chants of "We love Bobby" echoed off the limestone walls of the campus.

James Turner, 21, a senior from Fort Wayne, grabbed a bullhorn outside Assembly Hall. "I was born in the state of Indiana, I've lived here all my life, and I don't ever want to be anywhere else. But today I'm ashamed to call myself a Hoosier," Turner said, bringing loud applause from the crowd.

Andrea Osman held up a red university flag on which she scrawled: "The spineless political institution of the year."

"I believe Indiana University as an institution caved in to pressure from the outside world, specifically the media, instead of doing what's best for the IU community," she said.

All 12 of Knight's players attended Sunday's news conference at which Brand announced the firing. Some hung their heads while others glared at the dozens of reporters fixed on Brand's words. A couple wiped away tears.

"We realize that IU is a great university, but we came here to play for Coach Knight," junior forward Tom Geyer said. "Right now, you just have to consider what all your options are."

Guard Dane Fife said the players hope to stay together and win a championship for Knight this season.

Players later told reporters they would stay together through the upcoming season if assistants Mike Davis and John Treloar continue to coach the team.

They also want a say on the new coach, said Geyer, one of Knight's strongest supporters on the team.

The university would consider the players' input, but "you have to be open-minded and do what is best for the institution," athletic director Clarence Doninger said.

The Harvey brothers aren't the first of Knight's critics to feel the wrath of the coach's supporters. Death threats drove English professor Murray Sperber to take leave for a year in his hometown of Montreal.

Sperber criticized both Knight and the university's handling of the coach earlier this year during an investigation into accusations that Knight choked former player Neil Reed during a 1997 practice.

"No person, a coach or anyone else, is bigger than the university," Sperber said. "And finally the trustees are biting the bullet on this and putting the good of the institution ahead of a basketball coach."

'As a former student-athlete at Indiana and former player for Coach Knight, it saddens me to see one of the greatest eras of college basketball end this way.'

-- Steve Alford, Iowa basketball coach

"I have great respect for what Coach Knight accomplished, but his attitude toward his peers and university officials is intolerable. In the end, Indiana University is much more than its basketball program, and it is the overall interests of the university that motivates this conclusion."

-- Frederick F. Eichhorn Jr., IU trustees vice president

"It's awfully hard to live under the guidelines that the university gave him. I'm not really sure that I could live by those guidelines."

-- Tom Geyer, Indiana basketball player

"I idolize Bob Knight. He loves us, and we love him."

-- Dane Fife, Indiana basketball player

"He told me he thought this was just the most unfair thing he'd seen. I told him, "Bob, you just have to walk away.' He told me, "Billy, I've got to live my life. I can't live my life in a vacuum.' "

-- Billy Reed, Lexington Herald Leader columnist and longtime friend of Knight, who spoke to the coach Friday night

"In the end, Bob Knight's attitude was just no longer tolerable."

-- Ray Richardson, IU trustee

Highs and lows

The best and the worst of Indiana coach Bob Knight:

1971: Became head coach at Indiana after compiling 102-50 record at Army in six years, including four NIT appearances.

1975: Was a unanimous selection as Coach of Year.

1975-76: Upset over two turnovers, Knight grabbed sophomore Jim Wisman by the jersey and jerked him into his seat. Won NCAA title 86-68 against Michigan, the last undefeated season in Division I-A. Named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

1979: Won NIT title 53-52 win over Purdue. Was charged, and later tried and convicted in absentia, for hitting a Puerto Rican police officer before practice at the Pan American Games. Knight was sentenced to six months in jail, but Puerto Rico decided in 1987 to drop efforts to extradite him.

1979-80: Playfully fired a blank shot at a reporter. A week later Knight and his wife took turns at the microphone and chided the Assembly Hall crowd for not cheering enough during a game.

1980-81: Irritated Purdue fans and officials by bringing a donkey onto his TV show wearing a Boilermakers cap. Later, in Philadelphia for the Final Four, Knight was involved in a hotel shoving match with an LSU fan, who said Knight stuffed him in a garbage can. Won NCAA championship with a 63-50 win over North Carolina.

1981-82: Ohio State guard Troy Taylor said Knight cursed him after he thought Taylor flagrantly fouled a player. Knight denied the charge and sent films of what happened to the Big Ten and Ohio State. Ohio State later supported Knight.

1982-83: Critical of Big Ten officiating, Knight stood at midcourt cursing at Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke, who was sitting in the press box. Two days later, Knight assailed the referees for the "worst officiating I have seen in 12 years."

1984: Coached the United States to a gold medal in the Olympics.

1984-85: Tossed a chair across the court during a game against Purdue. Knight was ejected and suspended one game by the Big Ten. He later apologized.

1985-86: Received a technical foul for shouting at officials during a game against Illinois, then kicked a megaphone and chewed out the Indiana cheerleaders for disrupting a free throw by Steve Alford.

1986-87: Banged his fist on the scorer's table after being assessed a technical foul during an NCAA regional tournament game against LSU. The university was fined $10,000 by the NCAA; Knight received a reprimand. Won NCAA championship with a 74-73 win over Syracuse.

1987-88: Refused to let his team finish an exhibition game against the Soviet Union after he was ejected for arguing with a referee. He was later reprimanded by the university. Became the winningest coach in Big Ten history with his 214th win, a 74-73 victory over Purdue.

1988: In an NBC interview with Connie Chung, who asked how he handles stress, Knight replied, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." He explained he was talking about something beyond one's control, not the act of rape. The remark triggered protests and a march of about 300 people on the campus.

1988-89 Won 500th game with a 92-67 win over Northwestern; at age 48 became the second-youngest coach to win 500 games. Named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

1990-91: Asked not to be nominated again to the Basketball Hall of Fame, calling the voters' rejection of him in 1987 a "slap in the face." Publicly feuded with Illinois coach Lou Henson, who called him a "classic bully" who thrives on intimidation. Selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Won 10th Big Ten title.

1991-92: Barred a female reporter from the locker room, saying it was inappropriate for her to be in there and against university policy. All reporters were subsequently barred from the locker room. Canceled the annual team banquet after a loss to Purdue cost Indiana a share of the Big Ten title. Playfully gave a mock whipping to Calbert Cheaney, a black player, during practice for the NCAA West Regional. Several black leaders said they were offended. Knight denied any racial connotations. He noted the bullwhip was given to him by the players, including Cheaney.

1992-93: Won 600th game with a 75-67 win over Iowa; at age 52 became youngest coach to win 600 games. Won 11th Big Ten title.

1993-94: Was suspended for one game after a sideline tirade in a 101-82 win against Notre Dame. He screamed at his son, Pat, and kicked him in the leg. When fans behind the IU bench booed, Knight turned and responded with an obscenity.

1993-94: Accidentally head-butted freshman Sherron Wilkerson during a timeout at Michigan State. After the next game, the Hoosiers' home finale against Wisconsin, Knight took the public address microphone and recited a profane verse directed at his critics.

1994-95: Was reprimanded and fined $30,000 by the NCAA for an outburst at a news conference during the NCAA Tournament. Miffed that an NCAA media liaison erroneously said the coach would not attend the news conference, Knight lashed out at him. Selected as conference's all-time coach at Big Ten Centennial celebration and 1976 team selected as best in league history.

1997: Won 700th game with a 70-66 victory over Wisconsin, one of only 13 coaches to win 700.

1997-98: Was fined $10,000 by the Big Ten for berating referee Ted Valentine, whose officiating Knight called "the greatest travesty" he had seen in his coaching career. Knight received three technical fouls and was ejected by Valentine during the second half of a loss to Illinois.

1999: Investigated for possible battery after he was accused of choking a man at a restaurant. The man reportedly confronted Knight as he was leaving, contending he heard Knight make a racist remark.

MARCH: Was investigated by the university after former player Neil Reed said Knight choked him during a practice in 1997. A videotape of the practice appeared to support Reed. Reports then surfaced of other confrontations. In one, a university secretary said an enraged Knight once threw a vase in her direction.

MAY: Was fined $30,000, suspended for three games and placed under a "zero-tolerance" behavior policy by the university.

SEPT. 7: Accused of grabbing a student by the arm and lecturing him about manners after the coach was addressed solely by his last name.

SEPT. 10: Fired for violating the "zero-tolerance" policy and for what university president Myles Brand called a "pattern of unacceptable behavior."

Knight's record

W L Pct

1965-66 Army 18 8 .692

1966-67 Army 13 8 .619

1967-68 Army 20 5 .800

1968-69 Army 18 10 .643

1969-70 Army 22 6 .786

1970-71 Army 11 13 .458

1971-72 Indiana 17 8 .680

1972-73 Indiana 22 6 .786

1973-74 Indiana 23 5 .822

1974-75 Indiana 31 1 .966

1975-76 Indiana-x 32 0 1.000

1976-77 Indiana 16 11 .593

1977-78 Indiana 21 8 .724

1978-79 Indiana-y 22 12 .647

1979-80 Indiana 21 8 .724

1980-81 Indiana-x 26 9 .743

1981-82 Indiana 19 10 .655

1982-83 Indiana 24 6 .800

1983-84 Indiana 22 9 .710

1984-85 Indiana 19 14 .576

1985-86 Indiana 21 8 .724

1986-87 Indiana-x 30 4 .882

1987-88 Indiana 19 10 .655

1988-89 Indiana 27 8 .771

1988-90 Indiana 18 11 .621

1990-91 Indiana 29 5 .853

1991-92 Indiana 27 7 .794

1992-93 Indiana 31 4 .886

1993-94 Indiana 21 9 .700

1994-95 Indiana 19 12 .613

1995-96 Indiana 19 12 .613

1996-97 Indiana 22 11 .667

1997-98 Indiana 20 12 .625

1998-99 Indiana 23 11 .676

1999-00 Indiana 20 8 .714

Army total 102 50 .671

Indiana total 661 239 .734

Overall total 763 289 .705

x-NCAA champion

y-NIT champion

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