Time for IU's Glass to tell Knight: RIP

September 10, 2010
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What I love about New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick (and about the only thing I love about him) is that he can take an event that happened two minutes ago, stand up in front of a room full of media professionals and respond to sticky questions about the event with a simple, “It’s in the past.”

When Belichick says that, whether you love him or hate him, you have the distinct feeling, the king has spoken. So let it be written. So let it be done.

Indiana University Athletic Director Fred Glass should take note. To look more like the king of IU athletics and less like a court jester, he must stop pursuing a relationship with Bob Knight, who (in case you live in a cave and don’t know) was fired at Indiana 10 years ago today.

No more five-hour meetings at out-of-the-way restaurants. No more invitations to Bloomington-based honorary ceremonies. No more snuggling up with Bob Hammel. Please, for the love of everything that is Hoosier hysteria, no more Bob Hammel! He’s long since lost any sense of rational perspective when it comes to Knight. And that’s OK. I’m the same way with my good friends. But the university does not need his intermediary assistance.

This is what I know about Bob Knight: He won a lot of basketball games and three national titles as a coach. He did it all while never breaking an NCAA regulation, all the while beating a lot of folks who weren’t nearly as clean when it came to playing by the rules. He did a lot for the IU library and several other not-for-profit causes. He got into an altercation with an LSU fan who said he was going to be Tiger bait, smashed a phone during an NCAA game, fake whipped a black player (Calbert Cheaney) in front of news cameras, threw a chair during a game against Purdue, made an ill-advised comment about rape, and he never visits Puerto Rico (if you don’t know why that is, Google it).

He lifted up a lot of people. And he also hurt a fair number of people, including the players on his final IU team.

All this has been reported many times.

What’s less known is that from a business perspective, Knight was simultaneously the IU athletic department’s biggest asset and liability. He was the rainmaker, king, judge and jury when it came to IU athletics for many years.

Unfortunately, what resulted was a series of puppet athletic directors and as one current IU higher-up recently told me “a fat, dumb and happy” athletic department staff.

When Knight was fired, I was told, IU virtually had no athletic department to fall back on. And there was great fear that school supporters—financial and otherwise—still loyal to Knight, would leave in droves.

Nine rocky years followed.

With the hire of Fred Glass, the last of the dead wood appears to have gotten cut away. Glass didn’t bring in any high-priced minions, but instead cut senior staff by one-third. He also made strategic hires in marketing and compliance.

Those two areas never got a boost during the Knight era for two reasons. One, Knight was the marketing machine, and secondly, with Knight in control there was no reason to monitor compliance much. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to largely credit Knight for keeping IU athletics clear of NCAA violations—even beyond the basketball program. Unfortunately, the model under Knight became somewhat dysfunctional for a whole bunch of reasons I won’t go into here.

“The re-birth has started,” Glass told me recently of the school's athletic department.

But the re-birth won’t truly be completed until the IU-Knight issue—once and for all—is dead.

Long live the king!

But who, some still ask, when it comes to IU athletics, is the king?

I don’t know everything, but I know when it comes to the effectiveness of kings, like business executives, it’s about who is following behind, not who you’re chasing after.

One thing I know for sure, a specter can’t be king. Nor in the king’s court.

Knight’s refusal to attend his Hall of Fame induction last year should bring an end to any public attempt by IU to bring him back.

A specter must be put where it belongs.

In the past.

  • Preach it!
    AMEN. Glass can worship at his home shrine dedicated to Knight. It is now time for him to show the players and the fans what HE can do for them - rather than holding the spotlight for Knight.
    • Multi-Tasking
      Glass can multi-task. It is highly unlikely he spends much time on Knight. Those that diss Knight are either too young to have experinced Knight's programs and how he kept IU out of NCAA headlights and developed men from kids in his program; or you are a Miles Brand apologist.
    • Good Knight
      Like history itself, the mark of time will be forgotten by the next generations and they will look at IU and laugh. Get over it! Can't live in the past! Those kids will all say in unison "WE DON"T CARE ABOUT RMK". He's done nothing for this generation therefore....move on. RMK is no longer relevant!!!!!!!!!!!
    • truely open your eyes
      Fred Glass appears to be a solid AD with a bright future and he rightly thinks that embracing the past posiitves works in the best interest of the University in the future. Put your egos aside and take a real look at the position of IU basketball on a National level and then ask yourself who was the biggest factor in putting it there. Then ask yourself should Coach Knight be pursued
      • no one bigger than ...
        It's important to remember, no person is bigger than the program. IU has been around a long, long time before Bob Knight showed up. And it will be around a long, long time after he's dead. It's the place where guys like Kinsey made a name for themselves, it's the place credited for the creation of Crest toothpaste, it schooled great folks like Ernie Pyle and future Federal Communications Commission commissioners. To suggest that Bob Knight somehow made IU the institution that it is is a bit foolhardy. He's not even the only great coach that coached at the institution. He's but a single brick in the wall.
      • Fife
        Somebody please tell me why Dane Fife and Bob Knight haven't talked one single time since Knight was fired by IU. Have you seen the video of Fife talking about Knight. Clearly playing for Knight meant the world to him. Clearly, and I don't know why, Knight still has Fife's loyalty. But you can hear the hurt in Fife's voice about the divide that Knight has thrust up between the two. I'm guessing Knight won't talk to anyone who stayed to play for Mike Davis. That is wrong.
      • History counts and so does Knight
        Playing basketball for Bob Knight was a dream of mine when I was a kid like so many other men in this state my age. I would have done anything to play just one minute on the floor while he was the coach. Ever since Miles Brand decided he was bigger then Bob Knight, I decided I know longer needed to support the university I graduated from. Bob Knight did more for IU then anyone will ever know and Fred Glass trying to get Coach Knight to come back and have some closure is the only good thing I have heard from that program in a long time. Once someone finally steps up and gets Coach Knight back to campus and they rename at least the floor after Coach Knight, then and only then will I start sending IU money and supporting them again. Winning basketball games was great while Knight was there but for me it is more about graduation rates of the players and the lack of nonsense going on in his program.

        So for now Butler is where I take my kids to see games and encourage them to think about going to school.

        Don't give up Glass, history does matter and it sure would be nice to get IU's history straightened out.
      • Read the Paprt
        Tony, do you not read your own IBJ articles? - Glass IS brining IU's AD back from the desert, according to your front page article this week. 1 of 2 Big 10 AD's to be positive in 2009 - only 9-10 in the country. All while he was having those meetings - which aren't really that outta the way when Glass also has a place in Indy, is up in Indy often. And depsite Knight being in Texas, he is in Indy more often then you think.

        It's not like he's taking his eye off the prize by meeting with Knight. Here is a thought, maybe rebuilding relationships with Knight will bring back the many High Dollar supporters of the Athletic Department that we once loss, and never really replaced. That could be a strategy for brining more revenue in.
      • How do you really feel, joe?
        Wow, someone must have always got picked last for teams as a kid.
      • You obviously don't know a lot about I.U.
        Your comments show that you really don't know Coach Knight and all the good things he did. You picked a couple good things, listed ALL the bad things and then said it was time to move on. Without Bob Knight, there would not have been the huge basketball tradition. Simple as that. He got kicked in the gut by a spineless President! RIP Mr. Brand!
      • Indiana Basketball Pre-Dated Knight
        For those who do not recall Pre-1970, the reality is that Indiana Basketball (both High School and College)was King long before Knight's arrival. McCracken won 2 NCAA's, the greatest Coach (likely for any sport), John Wooden, was an All-American 3 years running and won 10 NCAAs, the Big "O' and Larry Bird, arguably the two greatest most complete players to ever play the game) both came from the state of Indiana, and 14 of the 18 largest high school fieldhouses are located in the state, providing testimonial to Indiana's basketball position nationwise.

        And for those with a very short memory, the Knight legacy ironically began to fade after the first year of the 3 point shot and his '87 NCAA win, since the trey arrival prompted more coaches to recognize the need to cover both the perimeter and the lane with a more athletic player. Since many of these players are/were Black and from the inner city, Coach Knight's ruthless and manipulative style was not compatible with most of these kids.

        I'm ok with a mutual recognition relationship with Knight and IU, but as Don Fisher has said, Knight, more than IU, needs to make the first step, and acknowledge that he was the victim of his own behaviors. IU's only major transgression was in allowing the issue to go on for so long.

        Clearly, Knight did a lot of good (hig graduation rates, charitable causes, etc), but his behaviors, demeaning approach to players and massive ego became an embarrassment to the state, and likely did as much damage as good with his players in preparing them for their post IU life.
      • Baketball at IU...they have it?
        IU even have a program anymore. People use to know every kid on IU. I have teenage son's and none of them or their friends where any IU clothing or could they same two players on IU's team. It's over and will never reach the heights it was before. They have a following that is a shadow of its former self
      • MCcracken...LOL
        Comparing Branch McCracken to Knight? I guarantee 99% of "IU Fans" couldn't pick McCracked out of a line up! but he is the greatest coach at IU with his eight team tourney win in 53 and the 1940 tourney where the Big Ten Champs Purdue didn't want to go to the NCAA tourney and turned it down.

        Wooden - probably the biggest cheater from Indiana since Sampson, so I guess that makes sense you like him.

        Big O can't stand Indiana University or the state of Indiana, but keep on claiming him
      • Time to Move On!
        I couldn't agree more. Fred Glass has got to have at least a couple hundred more important things to do than to pursue some sort of reconciliation with Knight. "The General" got exactly what he deserved. Who cares about him now? Glass should get on with the university's real and current business.
      • Bob hates people bigger than him
        Bob Knight needed to go. Despite his above average height, he still suffers from short-man syndrome. This became apparent when he ruined Patterson, Miller, Collier, and anyone that had post size following 1993. He was outcoached by Roy in the Elite 8 and it was time to take it out on the world. I would have loved to have seen Montross stay in the state, but he was too mentally tough for Knight. Knight also refused to court recruits because it was an honor to play for him(in his own mind) That is where Bob spends his days now, living in his own mind with Brent M. petting his ego once a week while calling games.

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