Former Indiana University coach Bob Knight will be inducted Nov. 6 into the school’s athletic hall of fame, but it
remains to be seen if The General will come marching back to Bloomington.
A nine-member committee comprised of Athletic Director Fred Glass, former IU athletic letter winners, representatives of the school’s board of trustees and academic circles agreed Knight’s induction was overdue even if Knight doesn’t agree to come back for the ceremony.
Glass said he has written Knight a hand-written letter this week inviting him to the induction and another committee member—who is close to Knight—is extending an invitation to the former coach personally. Glass declined to identify which committee member is reaching out to Knight personally.
IU President Michael McRobbie is aware of the decision, Glass said, but has neither endorsed nor condemned it.
Retired soccer coach Jerry Yeagley and former basketball player Steve Downing will also be part of the 2009 hall of fame class. Knight, who was fired by then-IU President Myles Brand in 2000, became eligible in 2005.
This is the first year that attending the induction ceremony is not a condition of induction.
“I think it’s important that there be no condition on induction,” said Glass, who was hired as IU athletic director to replace Rick Greenspan last year. “I think by having that requirement that someone would have to come back and kiss the ring cheapens the honor. We are inducting Coach Knight because it’s the right thing to do. Period.”
Glass added that Knight is being inducted into the hall of fame for his accomplishments on the court, not for attending the induction ceremony. Knight’s accomplishments include 11 Big Ten Championships, three national championships, six Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards and four national Coach of the Year Awards.
Glass said he began hearing from IU alums almost from the moment he took the job who wondered what he would do to reach out to Knight. Still, he expects some disagreement about the decision to honor the former coach.
Knight was fired for violating a zero tolerance policy after an altercation with a student in Assembly Hall. Brand instituted the zero tolerance policy after a number of complaints about Knight’s behavior surfaced.
“I don’t kid myself that this will be universally embraced, but I have no problem being a part of this decision because it’s the right thing to do, and by not having Coach Knight in the hall of fame, it diminishes it.”
Glass hopes to make the induction ceremony a part of a gala weekend. Following a Friday night ceremony in IU’s new Hall of Champions, IU will face Wisconsin on the football field. Glass said he also hopes this will open the door to Knight playing a bigger role in the athletic department. Just exactly what that role would be, Glass said he doesn’t know.
“Whether this helps heal the Hoosier Nation, I don’t know,” Glass said. “I hope it does. But we’re doing this because Coach Knight truly deserves a place in our hall of fame. The university is taking a very important step in recognizing [Knight’s] very positive accomplishments.”