Saturday, August 22, 2009
Hoosiers to add Knight to sports Hall
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight will be inducted into the university's athletics Hall of Fame nearly a decade after he was fired for violating a zero-tolerance policy imposed by then-IU President Myles Brand.
Indiana's Saturday announcement that it would honor Knight is the first move to bring the two sides together since Knight was fired in 2000 for what school officials called a "pattern of unacceptable behavior."
Bobby Knight left Army to take over the Indiana program in 1971 and stayed until 2000, claiming three national championships.
"I am honored to have been a part of selecting this outstanding class of tremendous coaches and student-athletes," new athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. "For my first Hall of Fame class to include heroes from my childhood as well as my student days is a dream come true."
An attempt Saturday to get comment from Knight with a message left for his son was not immediately successful. The basketball spokesman at Texas Tech, where Knight coached most recently, said Knight could not be reached for comment until Monday.
Whether Knight will attend the Nov. 6 induction ceremony in Indiana is unknown. He has not returned to IU since his firing, which caused a rift in Indiana basketball fans, led to the resignation of his successor, former assistant Mike Davis, and saw the storied program tarnished by recruiting violations under Kelvin Sampson.
Indiana brought in former Marquette coach Tom Crean to turn the program around after Sampson agreed to take a $750,000 buyout and resigned in February 2008.
Knight left Army to take over the Indiana program in 1971 and stayed until 2000, compiling a 662-239 record that included three national championships and a perfect season in 1976 -- a feat no other team has duplicated. He coached the 1979 Pan American Games and the 1984 Olympic squad and was national Coach of the Year in 1975, 1976, 1987 and 1989.
But Knight became known during his tenure at Indiana for his fiery temper as well as his victories. He hit a policeman in Puerto Rico, threw a chair across the court, was accused of wrapping his hands around a player's neck and allegedly kicked his own son (Knight claimed he actually kicked the chair his son sat on). The choking incident involving player Neil Reed led to the zero-tolerance policy that resulted in Knight's firing after he grabbed a student's arm.
Still, Knight was known for graduating players and playing by the NCAA's rules. He passed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith as the winningest Division I coach Jan. 1, 2007, getting career win No. 880 with Texas Tech.
Knight celebrated the milestone by having United Spirit Arena play "My Way" by Frank Sinatra -- a mantra for how he navigated his personal and professional worlds.
"I've simply tried to do what I think is best," Knight said at the time. "Regrets? Sure. Just like the song. I have regrets. I wish I could have done things better at times. I wish I would have had a better answer, a better way, at times. But just like he said, I did it my way and when I look back on it, I don't think my way was all that bad."
Knight took over as head coach at Texas Tech in 2001, six months after leaving Indiana. He resigned midseason in 2008, handing the reins to son Pat, who played for him at Indiana.
Other inductees to Indiana's Hall of Fame include longtime soccer coach Jerry Yeagley, who won six national championships; Steve Downing, who played under Knight and helped lead the Hoosiers to the Final Four in 1973, then worked with Knight at Texas Tech; Katrin Koch (women's track and field, 1989-92), Joe Norman (football, 1975-78), the late Mike Rabold (football, 1956-58), and Alan Somers (swimming, 1961-63).
The class will be inducted Nov. 6 at the annual Hall of Fame dinner and recognized the next day at halftime at the football game against Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium.