Knight's superiors face blame as well

September 13, 2000|By Mike Preston

NOW THAT Indiana University has named Mike Davis as the interim head basketball coach, school officials should conduct an internal investigation of all those top authorities who were closely associated with former head coach Bob Knight during his 29-year tenure.

Because if Knight can be held accountable and fired Sunday for the latest embarrassing incident in a long list of episodes at the school, then so should those who have sheltered him through the years. They should be put on the firing line, too.

Ready. Aim ...

That includes current university president Dr. Myles Brand, Brand's predecessor, and current athletic director Clarence Doninger and the person he replaced. The list probably goes on and on.

No one who has an ounce of respect for another human being can condone Knight's volatile behavior. He is arrogant, self-serving and at times a hypocrite. He demanded respect and discipline, but a lot of times showed none himself.

But Indiana University officials fed this Knight monster for decades.

He was untouchable in Hoosier Land as long he won NCAA and Big Ten championships, wore that trademark red sweater and packed The House. Knight was the neighborhood bully. He could cuss out officials, throw chairs on the court or even assault a Puerto Rican policeman like he did during the 1979 Pan American Games.

And they often looked the other way.

So it was amusing Sunday night when Brand said Knight was dismissed for what he called a "pattern of unacceptable behavior."

Oh, what kind of behavior was that in 1997 when Knight appeared to choke former player Neil Reed during a practice? Or was Knight being a model citizen when he once was restrained while verbally abusing his own athletic director?

How about the alleged racist remarks made toward a former player? Knight defenders will say that he was one of the game's greatest strategists, a throwback to yesteryear, when coaches like Vince Lombardi and George Halas commanded respect.

They say Knight was a father figure to a lot of inner-city players who never knew their real fathers and that his program was squeaky clean and his players graduated.

Please, stop.

There is no such thing as a clean program. Violations - though perhaps just small infractions - are committed every day, just not reported. It is inconceivable to believe that a program as large, as basketball-crazed and as money-driven as Indiana's is clean.

Knight's intimidating coaching style was good for the '60s and '70s, but outdated in the new millennium. He took care of his players in school, but name me a coach who doesn't when he is investing about $100,000 in that player over the next five years.

As for wins and losses, who really cares? Would you want your son to grow up and act like moron Bob Knight?

Knight had a temper problem, but never showed restraint. He didn't have to. He could always smash courtside phones, put his fingers in the face of officials. He could offend women with comments on the topic of rape.

Condescending and crude, that was Knight. But no big deal.

Just win, Bobby, just win.

It was inevitable that Knight would go out this way. It was just. Back in the spring, a video tape showed Knight putting his hand around the throat of Reed. Several others substantiated the story, and then more people started coming forward about confrontations with Knight.

But instead of firing Knight then and finally showing the long- overdue conviction needed in Hoosier Land, Knight gave a half-hearted apology and Brand sentenced him to a zero-tolerance policy. If Knight had one more problem, he would be fired.

Bam Morris had a better chance of staying out of trouble than Knight.

Whether it happened in the gym, a news conference or in church, Knight was bound to have a confrontation. This time it was with a 19-year old Indiana student named Kent Harvey, who had the audacity to ask Knight, "Hey, what's up, Knight?"

Or did he really show Mr. Knight disrespect by saying, "Hey, whassssupppp, Knight?"

Either way, it was enough to set off Knight. He reportedly grabbed Harvey. That's a no-no, even for Big Bob.

But even until the end, university officials didn't take action until they had to. Brand has said there were other incidents involving Knight since May and before the confrontation with Harvey.

But because the altercation was in public, something had to be done, especially when Knight went fishing after Brand ordered him to stay around campus while they investigated the charges.

But Knight didn't care. University officials had always backed him.

Actually, though, they have always set him up, going back to his younger years when they failed to discipline him.

Bob Knight was due to fall, but there should be others tumbling with him.

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