NEW YORK -- Texas Tech coach Bob Knight criticized the NCAA during videotaped testimony at an antitrust trial, contending the governing body wants to get rid of the NIT.
His testimony was considered a key part of a case brought against the NCAA by five New York schools that sponsor the preseason and postseason National Invitation Tournament, which has long been eclipsed by the NCAA's championship event. The semifinals and final of the NIT are played annually at Madison Square Garden.
"I have felt as long as I have been in coaching that the NCAA has wanted to eliminate the NIT," Knight said in a deposition played in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday. As for the NCAA, he added, "it's a monopoly."
Knight was the first of several coaches, college presidents, athletic directors and economists scheduled to testify before a jury of eight women and four men who will decide whether the NCAA has violated antitrust laws.
The schools maintain that the NCAA violated the laws with a long-standing rule requiring schools to accept a bid to its postseason basketball tournament over a bid to all others.
Knight, sitting in an office in a purple sweater and at times gulping from a large plastic cup, sparred with NCAA lawyer David Grand, who asked if the Hall of Fame coach had read the entire NCAA rules manual.
"I read "War and Peace" once. I don't need to read it
again," he said, drawing chuckles from the jury and the judge at
one point. "I doubt there's a coach in existence that has read all
the provisions for basketball in the NCAA manual."
If the rule were not in place, Knight said, he might choose to sometimes take his team to the NIT rather than the NCAA, because an inexperienced team might benefit more from NIT competition and advance further in the postseason tournament.
"The NIT is simply limited because of this rule. I see no problem with us having four tournaments," he said. "There's a lot of different ways to play for the national championship," he said, suggesting the tournament winners could compete in a final bracket.
Knight coached at Indiana for 29 years until he was fired in 2000 by the school's president, Myles Brand, now the NCAA president.
He said he was as excited when his Indiana team won the NIT in 1979 -- before the rule was in place -- as when the Hoosiers won the NCAA championship three times.
"That was as good a thrill as I've had in college basketball,"
He also disputed the NCAA's contention during opening statements that it came to the rescue of the NIT in the mid-1980s when it permitted the NIT to stage a preseason tournament to bolster its
finances. Knight said that tournament began because of the support of the nation's coaches.
"There wasn't a single coach in America who didn't want it to
happen," he said.
Knight has long supported the NIT, even taking his 1968 team,
Army, there after turning down an NCAA invitation.
He said that for college basketball, it has been "an
unbelievable asset against unbelievable odds, many of which were
put forth by the NCAA."