Those who hoped the ill will flowing from Bob Knight toward Indiana University might be fading were probably disappointed after reading Pat Knight’s quotes following the younger Knight’s firing as Texas Tech’s basketball coach Monday.
In 2009 and 2010, IU athletics director Fred Glass reached out to the elder Knight, even inviting him in September, 2009, to Bloomington as part of the IU Hall of Fame induction ceremony that honored Knight, among others.
Given Pat Knight’s comments, I’d say the Knight family has yet to forgive IU for perceived wrongdoings.
“It’s not an ugly situation,” Pat Knight told reporters Monday of his Texas Tech firing. “I mean, we left on good terms. I’m glad it ended like that, especially after being part of the deal at Indiana. That was tough. But this is different. It’s business.”
So we’re left wondering, if it was a business decision at Texas Tech, what was it at IU? If it wasn’t a business decision, the only alternative is that it was personal. And as we’ve seen in this 10-year-old saga, that which is taken personally is hard to get beyond.
Bob Knight, now an ESPN commentator, refused to talk to reporters Monday.
At least there’s one positive take-away from Pat Knight’s comments Monday. He still has some fond memories from his Bloomington days. That may have more to do with playing for his famous dad than donning the candy-striped pants.
“The two things I’m most proud of that I've done: I went to Indiana and played at Indiana, for my dad,” Pat Knight said. “And I took over for him here.”
It’s not clear where Pat Knight will land, though he still believes he has a coaching future.
“We've lost seven games in the last minute,” said Pat Knight, who was 50-60 at Texas Tech. “I've proven I can coach. I run a clean program, I don’t cheat, my players graduate and we have discipline. So if you don’t want me here, there's going to be someone else that wants me.”
What is clear is this: IU fans still love Bob Knight. My editor was telling me this week that he was taken by how loud the fans still cheer when Bob Knight’s face is shown on the scoreboard during pre-game festivities at Assembly Hall.
My editor made another good point when he wondered aloud how many of Bob Knight’s old adversaries are still in Bloomington. The president is gone. The athletics director is gone. Many other key administrators who presided over the Knight firing are gone.
I’m not here to judge any of those people or their decisions. That’s history.
What’s not history is the cheering masses that still raise their voices to hail the man long known for running a clean program and graduating players. And, of course, winning championships.
Some day, Bob Knight may realize that the force of those fans that still love him is most of what’s remaining at IU. They’re the ones filling the stands at Assembly Hall despite a 3-15 Big Ten finish.
From there, it’s a short leap to conclude that those cheering loyalists are the people hurt the most by Bob Knight’s refusal to associate with Indiana.