Volume 94, Issue 2

Friday, May 19, 2000


Hunting the London Knights

Running toward the big leagues

Rugby rucks to the top

Indiana's fallen knight

Indiana's fallen knight

By Chad Thompson
Gazette Staff

If Bobby Knight, the head coach of the University of Indiana men's basketball team, was in any other career he would have been fired a long time ago.

It's true Knight has a winning record and one of the finest basketball programs in the country. It's also true he has a miserable temper and treats his players not as people, but as basketball machines to control by any means necessary.

After CNN Sports Illustrated aired a video tape of Knight choking a former player during a practice, evidence finally proved what many people have known for a long time Knight is a violent man and a physical threat to his players. Perhaps his yelling outbursts and drill sergeant style of coaching was the norm when he began his career, but today Knight looks like a lumbering dinosaur trying to find his way.

The video evidence and many allegations logged against Knight from both former players and co-workers at the university, has forced the U of I president, Myles Brand, to create an independent commission to review Knight's conduct. After a few weeks of review and an apology from Knight for his temper, the university decided to suspend Knight for three games of the 2000-01 season. The commission also stated Knight must abide by a strict code of conduct.

Wow, that was harsh.

Realistically, Knight should have been fired. The only problem is Knight's clout has rendered him untouchable.

Nevertheless, this was the best U of I could have done in this situation. If they had fired Knight, alumni dollars might have disappeared and sponsors probably would have left U of I in the dust.

I am not a Bobby Knight supporter. He is a horrible coach, who, from the way he treats his players, not only deserves to be fired, but should also be brought up on charges.

This is a compelling story to me, not because of the questions it raises as to whether or not Knight should be fired, but because it truly displays the problems in American collegiate sport.

Everybody knows there are problems in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Sadly, the situation at U of I occurs more than the NCAA is aware of, or would like to admit. Players will not speak out against their coaches because it is these coaches who hold the key to their futures. If a player is constantly benched and does not get to showcase his skills, his draft position will inevitably suffer. Coaches can also influence professional teams by suggesting a player is lazy or lacks a serious work ethic.

Still the question remains: What is the solution? For U of I, the solution might not have been so cut and dry. In a perfect world the decision would be easy: Fire Knight and get a new coach. Unfortunately this decision has more than one factor. Do you fire the figurehead of your basketball program, possibly losing alumni and advertising money, in an attempt to get the tarnish off your university name? Or do you keep him and face more scrutiny from the media and the public?

What it comes down to is dollars and cents. As much as you may hate Bobby Knight and the way he coaches, he makes the University of Indiana money. Until people stop giving the university money because of Knight, he will never be fired. Morality, it seems, sometimes takes a back seat to money.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000