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Outside the Lines: Bloomington after Knight

BROADCAST OF SUNDAY, September 17, 2000
Anchor- Bob Ley

Guests- Myles Brand, Indiana University President;
Panel of Indiana University students
Coordinating producer- Jonathan Ebinger

Bob Ley, Host - It has been a week of extremes on this campus. Sunday night, there were scenes seemingly torn from news films of the 1960s - college students marching in a demonstration, figures being burned in effigy, police in riot gear.

And then just three days later, the unlikely sight of media actually being invited into an Indiana Hoosier basketball practice session. Now obviously that was not Bob Knight's practice.

Interim Head Coach Mike Davis is being asked to coach like Bob Knight but relate to people quite differently. And while Davis is being wished well in all quarters, Bob Knight talks of selling his house and moving from his home of nearly 30 years.

Quite obviously, one week after the firing of Bob Knight, the fallout here in Bloomington may actually be growing. This is, after all, a campus where a leading critic of Bob Knight's felt compelled to leave the country over concern for her safety, where the wife of the man who fired Knight doesn't feel safe in her own home and teaches her classes under a police guard. And this is where Bob Knight felt compelled to ask the Hoosier faithful to leave alone the young freshman he encountered in that chance doorway meeting.

Whether you believe Bob Knight that indeed he was set up and done in by the administration, or you believe President Myles Brand and his bill of particulars, it is obvious that the firing of Knight may have solved some problems and created many others.

I'll be talking live with President Brand later in this program. But we begin first with this town and this university beginning life after Bob Knight.

Unidentified male - The head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers is Bob Knight.

Ley - For many, it was not a firing, but a funeral.

Brand - And I notified him that he was being removed as basketball coach effective immediately.

Ley - An exit as wrenching as it was sudden.

Knight - I want to wish you all the best at whatever you do.

Ley - From a campus reconciling memories of Knight's glory with his excess, his years of quiet good works with the loud end to his career.

Nicole Killion, Indiana University student - We love him. We love him. He's basketball. And here, basketball is more than basketball, it's religion. And people here understand him better I think than the outside world looking in on us.

Jay Wilkin, Bloomington businessman - The coach has not changed at all. The university and the political atmosphere and just the times have changed. And he sees himself I think as someone who has that core value, if you will, those sort of rock solid beliefs that don't change.

Vic Viola, chemistry professor, Indiana University - Knight is a teacher. And teaching means challenging people. An awful lot of our faculty think teaching means making the students feel good about themselves.

Ley - Knight is now in his own words an unemployed teacher. But before he became unemployed, this professor had already stopped teaching, leaving a course he had instructed for 28 years.

Tony Mobley, Dean of Health, Physical, Education, and Recreation - And so I was very disappointed when he called to say he couldn't teach it this year. And he indicated that because of the zero tolerance policy that he felt like he should reduce his exposure, and if something - someone were to get upset in the class it could cause a problem.

Ley - The sword hanging over Knight's head was a zero tolerance guideline he would later say was never explained to him, a guideline imposed by Myles Brand, whom Knight came to distrust through Brand's six years as university president.

Viola - My idea of higher education is excellence. And what we have here now is expedience. Substance, that's Coach Knight. Style, that's Myles Brand. Students, that's Coach Knight. Dollars, that's Myles Brand.

Mobley - I think that if anything, this incident that has happened has indicated that we have very strong leadership at the university.

Unidentified males - Hey, hey, ho, ho, Myles Brand has got to go, hey, hey...

Jim Sherman, Psychology Professor, Indiana University - But I think people should realize that Myles Brand was put in an equally difficult situation both back in May and again in September.

Unidentified males - Bobby Knight, Bobby Knight, Bobby Knight...

Viola - No matter what he did, he was going to get a ton of criticism from someone or other.

Ley - Much of that criticism is from a vocal faculty block that sees creeping mediocrity under President Brand and something more than mere discipline behind Knight's firing.

Viola - In fact, I feel that the administration has used this Knight thing and dragged it out so long to cover up some very sufficient academic deficiencies the university is facing.

Peter Bondanella, Comparative Literature Professor, Indiana University - We have been I think in something that you might call free fall for the past five or seven years. Our ratings go down in various places.

The amount of money spent per student goes down. The SAT scores have gone down. The number of faculty in the college has dropped dramatically.

Viola - That's much more embarrassing than anything that Coach Knight could ever do.

Ley - To many, Knight's departure was long overdue. To others, he was set up to fail. And still others believed his firing was the final mismanaged act in a stormy history with this administration.

Viola - I was very concerned because I felt that Knight would be - Coach Knight - debated.

Bondanella - From May to now, there have been, according to the administration, six or seven major incidents that we supposedly didn't know about which breached the zero tolerance rule. Well, I mean, that isn't zero tolerance. That's zero tolerance minus seven or six.

So my impression that if it's public, it's not condoned. If it's private, that's fine. That's not a very good pulpit to preach from. That's a really hypocritical sort of position.

Killion - I mean, we all thought it was pretty much a joke. Zero tolerance, I mean, what's that? You know, we, my friends and I, even joke, hear comments like "What does that mean?"

Andrew Bloomquist, Indiana University student - Yeah, I think the other disturbing thing is that there was no accountability by the university for over a 20-year period.

Unidentified male - The code of conduct.

Ley - Late Friday, accountability arrived in the form of an 11-page athletic code of conduct, written words to define what some say was the subjective swamp of zero tolerance.

Sherman - And that was really one of the jobs of the code of conduct committee this summer. And I think it's unfortunate and ironic that we completed our work at exactly the same time that this all came down.

Ley - So Knight's immediate legacy is a handbook of behavior, cruel irony for a fiery teacher whose passion and success defined this school to the rest of the world.

Unidentified male - Bob Knight, a joyous Bob Knight heads toward the Indiana locker room.

Damian Dittmer, Bloomington resident - I think it leaves a big vacuum. Even people that didn't like him, there's a loss here, OK? And I think there will be a grieving period where people will try to get used to not having Bob Knight around.

Killion - Bobby Knight basically put Indiana on the map. And when I traveled, "Where are you from? Oh, Indiana, oh, Bobby Knight, Hoosiers, yeah."

Unidentified female - I think it was time for him to leave. But at the same time, it's not time for us for him to leave. Like, we're not ready for him to leave. Myself, I can speak for myself. I'm still shocked.

Ley - And when we continue from Bloomington, a conversation I had yesterday with a group of Indiana students. Life here after Bob Knight.

Ley - We gathered a group of Indiana University students at the center of the past week, the president of the student body, the head of the Student Athletic Association, a brother of one of the witnesses to the incident involving Freshman Ken Harvey (ph), a student who hung Harvey in effigy, and journalist from the campus newspaper and the radio station.

Describe what basketball means on this campus.

Adam Howard, Indiana University junior - It's life. It's life. Indiana basketball, that's what you grow up as a kid. You grow up, everybody has a basketball hoop in their driveway, whether it's just an old like rusty rim or Brand new adjustable one.

I mean, I don't know any of my friends that didn't dream of playing IU basketball when they were a kid. Growing up in a small town in Indiana, I mean, that was your dream.

Ley - What about all the emotion, though, that bubbled over? It got very emotional, didn't it?

Howard - Well, we felt about Ken Harvey, what he did for the university, I don't think he served any good for the university, what he did. I believe that he was very disrespectful to Coach Knight. And what Coach Knight did to him I believe in no way deserved him being fired.

Pete Gelling, Indiana University senior - I don't know, I think that Coach Knight had said it himself the other day at the Meadow (ph) that Ken Harvey is not responsible for him being fired, that this is something that's been long in the coming. I mean, this happened beginning of the summer, you know, and even long before that.

Howard - I don't think he was the reason he was fired. I believe the administration had him fired back in the spring also. I believe that President Brand and the trustees, they knew what they were doing when they said that in the spring. They couldn't fire him then. Too much would have came down.

So they just positioned themselves to make themselves look good in the fall. All Knight had to do was just take one wrong step, get a technical foul in a game, and they could have fired him if they wanted to.

Adam Minnick, Indiana University senior - Bob Knight was fired on May 15. There's no question about that. As soon as President Brand had the vote from the board of trustees and announced the whole zero tolerance thing, which was never really in writing, he was fired. That was it.

David Browning, Indiana University senior - I don't think - I'm going to have to defend Ken a little bit because I know him, and I've known him for a while. I don't think that he was trying to be disrespectful to Coach Knight one bit. He just sort of may have been frustrated seeing a person that he's seen on TV, whatever, and just say, "Hey, Knight," not meaning it in any derogatory manner. And for some reason or another, Coach Knight took offense to it.

Kellye Kirkbride, Indiana University senior - It's unfortunate that the students are placing the blame on this Ken Harvey because we weren't aware of other stuff that was on President Brand's list.

Ley - Had anybody heard anything? I mean, he went through a specific list when he fired him.

Gelling - I think that's a pretty well secret.

Ley - So you're at the radio station, you're at the newspaper, you're the student council president. Did anybody have any inclining that there were any issues percolating like this from the beginning of May when zero tolerance came about?

Minnick - No, it was a surprise at the press conference up in Indianapolis when he named five things. President Brand named five things. And we all got the copy of the speech. And we were going through it. And we went back over our memories of what happened over the summer. And nobody could remember any of the five things that President Brand had in his firing speech.

Ley - Do you wonder that what's happened here, especially in the last week, has cast the school and your education in a light that you never considered it would be cast in?

Browning - I talked to one of my friends that graduated in May and moved out to Burlington, Vermont. And he said that he's almost ashamed to tell people he's from Indiana University with all this going on because everybody's making fun of IU right now. I mean, we're the butt of all the jokes.

So that's - I almost feel the same way. It's sad to see that something like this has just overshadowed a school that's got such a great educational reputation. And the basketball program overshadows it.

Meredith Suffron, Indiana University senior - I have a lot of experiences I can talk about in terms of the position that I've been in. But I know that on a resume, if they look at that, I was the student body president when this happened. And that's something that I never would have expected when I ran for this position.

Ley - Let's take the basketball equation out of it. Knight's been fired. The administration has to defend that decision and live with that decision and move on. How will that change life, the way people feel towards their school here as they go about their classes?

Gelling - I don't think it's going to change as much as people think it is right now. I think in time, and not that much time, things may become pretty normal here. People go to classes. I mean, it's a university. They do their thing here. I mean, it's going to come back up when basketball season starts. But then it will die down again.

I mean, every once in a while, the issue will be raised again. But I think in general, I mean, nobody - I don't see anybody getting up and transferring or anything like that.

Minnick - I think students also have to remember that you should be a fan of Indiana University athletics also, not just a fan of Bob Knight. And people need to go to the games because they're IU students. They're Hoosiers. You've got to support your teams. In any sports, besides basketball, volLeyball, football, baseball, et cetera, I mean, go to the games to support the Hoosiers.

Bob Knight left. But it's still the Hoosier basketball program.

Ley - What is there about Coach Knight that we outside Bloomington just don't understand?

Minnick - I think people don't see the amount of good that he does. The national media, especially this week if you look at all the tapes of his firing on the file footage, it's him throwing the chair 15 years ago. It's him hitting a player, slapping him in the butt or going crazy, or the Ted Valentine (ph) incident a couple of years ago where he's berated a ref.

Nobody ever shows when he does a cancer walk. Or nobody ever shows that he was happy when we won a national championship. It's a very negative spin on what Coach Knight did here. And people don't realize all the players that he's graduated, all the charity events that he does, the TV and radio shows that he does every week, and just things of a positive nature.

Kirkbride - I remember last year - I'm a biology major. And he came to an organic chemistry class to talk to us about motivating and about education. He told us that we needed to do what we had to do before we could do what we wanted to do.

And I think just his spontaneous coming to a chemistry class, nothing related to basketball or anything, touched a lot of people who might not have had any contact with him before. And so I think he does a lot for the campus. He does a lot for the students. And I think in return, the students show their support for him.

Ley - And I am joined live by University President Myles Brand. Thank you, sir, for joining us this morning.

Brand - My pleasure.

Ley - Your wife spoke at a press conference this week that she felt afraid in her own home. There is a police guard now at her classes. Are you concerned about her safety?

Brand - There's been a great deal of incivility on campus as a result of the removal of Coach Knight. That incivility on campus has passed by and large.

But it's unacceptable, intolerable. On a university campus, it's perfectly legitimate to express one's views and to disagree and debate. In fact, that's what an intellectual environmental is all about. But the uncivil, hostile environment is just intolerable.

Ley - Your wife called for an end to the incivility. Is that a call that people might have expected from your office before that?

Brand - I have been calling for incivility for some time. Others have to say it too. I just keep saying it. I become - the media attention is directed towards me. The message gets out better sometimes when others repeat the same message.

Ley - Your wife, who is a professor of philosophy here, said this the other day. Bob Knight has a tactical way of targeting people. Do you agree with her?

Brand - I think Bob Knight's followers feel that they have permission because of the hostile environmental to attack, through threats or in the media, certain members of the university staff including administration and others who are uncomfortable with the situation.

Ley - You think he incited that implicitly?

Brand - No, I do not think he incited it. I think an environment, an atmosphere of hostility, had existed around this removal. And that hostility, the environment of hostility, gives permission for people to say things that they would not normally do.

Ley - Bob Knight was on the faculty as a professor. Is he no longer on the faculty?

Brand - Bob Knight was never on the faculty. He was a volunteer teacher unpaid teaching one course half a year, six weeks in basketball.

Ley - Another housekeeping item. Is Pat Knight still employed by this university?

Brand - Pat Knight announced publicly he resigned. He quit. We have not heard anything more from him. We've sent a message over to the HR people to see what's up.

Ley - All right. So that's still in flux.

Let's talk about the fact that Bob Knight's attorney is looking at the issue of his termination. Are you confident that every state law was followed in terminating Bob Knight?

Brand - Yes, we're very confident every state law was followed as according to contract. I would expect someone who has a long-term contract like Coach Knight to pursue it through the legal channels. We're confident that the courts will decide this.

Ley - His agreement with the university about his retirement package has a non-compete clause. The school's position, it's eight years you can't coach in the Big 10 or the states of Indiana and Kentucky. And I believe his position is four years. Are you confident that will withstand appeal?

Brand - I'm going to leave those questions to the attorneys.

Ley - As far as the value of his retirement package, his attorney says $4 million, $4.5 million. Is that an accurate figure?

Brand - What happened over the last 20 years is we provided Bob Knight with some deferred compensation in addition to his salary, somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000 per year because it increased each year by inflation. That amounted to I believe $1.3 million over that long period of time.

The stock market has been great. The equities have accumulated. I don't know what his retirement fund is. He says it's $4.5 million. It sounds correct to me.

Ley - I want to give you an opportunity to respond to the charges of academic slippage that we heard in our report earlier. "U.S. News and World Report" rankings, also Dr. John Lombardi (ph), former president of Florida, showed that particular study Indiana near the bottom of the Big 10 in some critical categories.

Brand - Actually, our academic performance has increased. There always are concerns by individual faculty members that their individual areas aren't doing as well as they'd like. And sometimes individual faculty members feel that they should do better than they are. The fact of the matter is our academic performance has increased.

You have to be very careful about national rankings, the criteria used. For example, size matters. We don't have an engineering school. We're the second smallest Big 10 institution. That's why we look bad.

If you look on a normalized-per-faculty-member basis, we turn out to be objectively fourth in the nation in the humanities, social science, and the arts, and not far behind in the sciences. Those are just bad national rankings. Everyone knows that.

Ley - At what point in your job search or your interview process here did you learn that Bob Knight basically ran his own program and did not answer to the athletic director, before you were hired?

Brand - First of all, he does answer to the athletic director.

Ley - Well, he says his contract says that's not the case. If we were to read his contract, would he be in error?

Brand - He has more control over the basketball program than is normal. But he also has to work through the chain of command. There's no question about that.

There is no such position as athletic director of basketball. He does have more control over what happens in...

Ley - Was that a mistake?

Brand - Whose?

Ley - By the school and prior administrations to give him that much power.

Brand - That was a negotiated contract. I think it was in the early '80s.

Ley - Let's talk about the fact that when you came in, you had such high praise for Bob Knight. Where did your relationship with him go bad, because he has made it clear reading between the lines the last four or five years "this has not been a good place for me." What happened?

Brand - What I did early on was not only try and have a relationship with Bob Knight that respected his achievements - and they really are quite remarkable achievements - but also wanted to make sure that there's accountability unlike perhaps in the past. That accountability was uncomfortable for Bob Knight.

The May incident is very interesting. At that period of time, I'm confident that Bob Knight wanted to coach for Indiana University. He likes the team he had. And he was willing to live by a much more accountable code of conduct. And he said that and signed a paper that said that.

Ley - But you knew very quickly - and we just have a few moments left - how quickly after that meeting at your home on Sunday night did you know that zero tolerance was doomed?

Brand - I did not know zero tolerance was doomed until Bob Knight took off the restraints. What he did was say, "I'm so angry that the university did not promote my program and defend me to the hilt that I'm angry and all the restraints were off."

Ley - All right, we'll have to end right there. Dr. Brand, thank you again for joining us this morning live from Bloomington.

We'll continue with Outside The Lines from the campus of Indiana University in just a moment.

Ley - Outside The Lines is online at On the front page, type the keyword otlweekly and you can browse our complete library of streaming video and transcripts of all our programs.

As always, we welcome your e-mail. Our e-mail address And thanks for being in touch.

Ley - A reminder, if you missed any portion of our program on the firing of Bob Knight from Bloomington, it will re-air at our usual time over on ESPN2. That is 10-00 a.m. Pacific, 1-00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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