Knight leads push to get Vitale into Hall of Fame

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Coach Bob Knight is ticked off again, but it has nothing to do with his Texas Tech Red Raiders.

He's upset that broadcaster and longtime pal Dick Vitale keeps falling short in his bid to join Knight in the basketball Hall of Fame.

So Knight, himself inducted in 1991, has lined up some big names to write letters to the Hall in a campaign for Vitale's admission, including John Wooden, Pete Newell, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, John Chaney, Don Haskins, Lute Olson, Denny Crum, Jim Boeheim and Rick Barnes.

"I would hope that the voices of all of these coaches, as you read these letters, would take care of what we all feel should have been done several years ago," Knight said in his own letter to the Hall.

Vitale, a commentator for 27 years, is one of 15 finalists for induction into the Springfield, Mass., Hall this year. Twice before, in 2004 and 2006, he was a finalist but didn't get enough votes.

Knight wrote to officials after Vitale was not named as a finalist in 2005, telling John Doleva, the president and chief executive officer of the Hall, that the omission was a "tremendous mistake." Then last year he persuaded the high-profile coaches to send letters.

The problem is, the committee of 24 that selects inductees won't read letters or peruse anything submitted on behalf of any player, coach, contributor or referee, Doleva said. A finalist needs 18 votes to be inducted.

"I think that's absolutely ludicrous that they don't receive information from people that know about" those nominated, Knight said.

Members of the selection committee are not made public and even they don't know who else votes, Doleva said.

Last month Knight sent a letter to the Hall's board chairman, Russ Granik, saying the letters from 2006 show "incredibly strong and overwhelming support" for Vitale's election. The opinions of those who wrote letters are being "ignored" if they don't make it into voters' hands, Knight said Monday.

Doleva said the process does not include politicking.

"This is a policy that we just do not put out this extraneous information," he said. "We're following procedure so that we have a level playing field."

Vitale, who said he doesn't question the selection method, is grateful for the coaches' support.

"It's something I'll have the rest of my life," the 67-year-old former University of Detroit and Detroit Pistons coach said. "What could please someone more than that?"