Basketball coach Bob Knight, newly hired by Texas Tech University, on Monday swore off profanity and insisted he was never "out of control" during 29 years of coaching at Indiana University despite the notorious temper that cost him his job there.
A kinder, gentler Knight appeared on CNN's Larry King Live with his new boss, David Schmidly, the president of Texas Tech. Schmidly expressed full confidence in his new basketball coach but said he would be held to the same high standards as other faculty members at the West Texas university.
"If we do anything that brings harm to a student or employee or to our institution, then that's grounds for appropriate action and action will be taken," Schmidly said. "Coach Knight will be treated like any other employee on our campus."
Attempting to Curb Profanity
Knight, 60, said he was delighted with his new job, and would try to eliminate swear words from his dealings with basketball players and the media.
"Not only do I have to change some things, I mean, I have to eliminate a thing or two. Not just change it, but … just get rid of it," Knight said.
He said he also hoped to reform his tendency to "stay on a dead horse," when it came to disputes.
But the legendary "Coach Knight" insisted his behavior at Indiana University had been "grossly exaggerated," adding, "I don't think I've ever been out of control."
He denied that he tried to choke an Indiana basketball player and said he had aimed to avoid hitting anyone when he threw a chair during another basketball game.
"I didn't hit anybody with that chair," he said. "If I didn't know where that chair was going, it would have hit somebody."
Last September, Indiana fired Knight — who led the school's basketball team to three national championships — after he was accused of grabbing a student to lecture him about manners.
The altercation violated a "zero-tolerance policy" imposed on the legendary coach by the school's board of trustees in response to an investigation over a videotape that showed Knight grabbing a player by the throat during a practice.
Indiana and Texas Tech to Play in 2002
Knight last week signed a five-year, $1.25 million deal with Texas Tech that rises to about $400,000 a year with incentives.
Knight's new team will face off against Indiana in the 2002 season, a fact that came as a surprise to the coach when he was asked about it on the CNN program.
But he denied it would be an emotional experience for him, saying, "I'm going to be a little bit emotional toward Texas Tech. I mean, I'll be kind of rooting for Texas Tech to win wherever we play."