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Knight: Rule affects 'integrity of college sports'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The new rule that says players must be
at least one year removed from high school before entering the NBA
is "the worst thing that's happened to college basketball since
I've been coaching," says Texas Tech coach Bob Knight.

In the Big 12, it might be called the Kevin Durant Rule after
the Longhorn freshman who has electrified the entire country and
leads the conference in both scoring and rebounding. Instituted
last year by the NBA, it means that super-talented players must
wait at least a year rather than jumping into the pros right out of
high school.

"Now you can have a kid come to school for a year and play basketball and he doesn't even have to go to class. He certainly doesn't have to go to class the second semester... That, I think, has a tremendous effect on the integrity of college sports."
-- Bob Knight

Many coaches have hailed this new approach as a blessing for the
college game, because it lets NCAA schools showcase their abilities
at least for one season. But Knight, the winningest college coach
of all time, said he deplores it.

"Because now you can have a kid come to school for a year and
play basketball and he doesn't even have to go to class," Knight
said Monday during the Big 12 coaches call. "He certainly doesn't
have to go to class the second semester. I'm not exactly positive
about the first semester. But he would not have to attend a single
class the second semester to play through the whole second semester
of basketball.

"That, I think, has a tremendous effect on the integrity of
college sports."

No player better exemplifies the new rule than Durant. Amazingly
quick, agile and athletic for an 18-year-old, the 6-foot-9 Durant
would have been a surefire NBA lottery pick any other year. But he
had to find a college to play for. He chose Texas and perhaps will
be remembered as the greatest to ever wear a Longhorns uniform,
even though he seems likely to vault into the NBA after a
sensational freshman season.

He has been named Big 12 player of the week three times and
conference rookie of the week five times. He leads the league with
24.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game and has a good chance at
being national player of the year.

Knight said he would never have recruited Durant, although he
doesn't blame Texas coach Rick Barnes for doing so. "I don't fault
those that have, because it's within the rules," Knight said.
"But the rules are just ridiculous, the way the thing is set up."

"It's just a tremendous disservice, the way that it's
structured, to the integrity of college sports."

Barnes, who did not hear what Knight said earlier on the Big 12
coaches call, said he did not recruit Durant as a one-semester
student.

"All we've ever said is if we recruit a player and that player
said to us, 'I'm coming to school for one year and as soon as
basketball season is over with I'm dropping out of school,' we
would not recruit that player," he said.

"We cannot afford to jeopardize our program in that way. We
want players that if they're going to come, we want them committed
to a whole year academically. We tell them that's what's expected
coming in."

On the subject of officiating, Knight did not let a public
reprimand by Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg stop him from
blasting game officials who work five or six games a week.

"To have some guy 54 or 55 years old referee six times a week
is a real disservice to the kids who are playing," said Knight,
who was reprimanded last week for criticizing officiating in one of
his games.

"They have plenty of other places they can go. They can go to
the NBA, they can go to the NAIA, they can go to junior college,
they can go to high school. For years, the NCAA has hidden behind
individual employment contractors. I think that's all [baloney].

"You say, 'All right, if you're going to work in this league,
this is how you're going to work. And if you don't want to work in
this league, fine, you've got other leagues to work in.'"

Knight said he would support an effort to have the Big 12 hire
its own officials who do not travel the country working different
games in different leagues several nights a week.

"But these guys are so greedy, they end up trying to work these
six games a week. And they're not capable of doing that," he said.
"Check schedules and you'll rarely see where kids play three games
a week. These kids are 19, 20 and 21 years old."