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December 06, 2001

The fall of Knight
By Dan Patrick

It never had to be this way. Bob Knight could have found a better way to write the last line of his Indiana resumé. Instead, because he would not, or could not, control his legendary temper, the disciplinarian has been disciplined. And so his tenure in Bloomington ends with a resounding loss. No one can spin being fired into a win.

 Bob Knight
IU's board of trustees tolerated Bob Knight's behavior for years before his latest incident.

The long and whining road of Bob Knight's career at Indiana is over. And remember that the end came as a result of a compilation of incidents, not merely this latest tussle with a student last Thursday. Knight has an impressive body of work when it comes to unacceptable, boorish behavior.

That he got away with it for so long is as troubling as his often ugly actions. This affair is "Animal House" with no laughs. Knight is Delta House and the officials at Indiana are Dean Wormer.

Knight is out front here, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Start with the Indiana ostriches. The president and the board of trustees at Indiana tolerated years and years of intolerable behavior from Knight, looking everywhere but right at him when it mattered.

Then in May the school institutes a "zero-tolerance policy" regarding Knight's behavior. So IU looked a bit foolish yesterday when President Myles Brand listed those infractions that have occurred since "zero tolerance" went into effect. Knight clearly flouted the new environment and continued to exist in his own world.

The key was that those incidents were kept private. When last Thursday's scuffle went public, the school had to act. In mishandling it this way, they have made a scapegoat of freshman Kent Harvey when they had reasons to fire Bob Knight long before Harvey took his SATs. Whether or not it was a setup doesn't matter. When a freshman can ruffle Knight so easily, with Knight knowing what was at stake, the end was coming soon. It just happened to be this weekend.

Bob Knight earns respect as a coach. But the real indictment of Bob Knight the man, not Bob Knight the coach, is that nobody would want their son to be like Bob Knight.

Bob Knight earns respect as a coach. But that respect does not translate to him as a person. The real indictment of Bob Knight the man, not Bob Knight the coach, is that nobody would want their son to be like Bob Knight.

As the coach, Knight for a while now has been like Woody Hayes in his final years at Ohio State. You could see the train wreck coming but could not do anything to prevent it. At the end, both men had more than chinks in their armor. There were many large and gaping holes.

I thought he would last long enough at Indiana to retire there as the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history. But it was not to be. Knight's lack of control and the school's historical lack of guts combined to forge this messy, premature parting. But if Kevin Mackey and Wimp Sanderson can recover from what they did to live and coach again, you can bet Bob Knight will too.

I close with a note to all those ostriches at Indiana University: You can pull your heads out of the sand now.

He's gone.

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