James Dickey was fired today as Texas Tech's basketball coach, clearing the way for the possible hiring of Bob Knight.
Athletic director Gerald Myers said the decision was made a week ago and that he and school President David Schmidly met with Knight on Monday in Florida.
"We felt it was necessary for us to talk to Bob Knight to assess his interest and also our interest," said Myers, who preceded Dickey as Tech's coach and is longtime friends with Knight.
Sanctions Derailed Program
Knight has been out of coaching since Indiana fired him on Sept. 10 for a "pattern of unacceptable behavior." He won three national championships in 29 years at the school, but his tenure was marred by emotional outbursts and physical attacks.
Dickey's status has been in limbo as the Red Raiders lost 11 of their last 12 games to finish 9-19, their worst record in his 10 seasons. This was Tech's fourth straight losing season after a run of three solid years, which included going 30-2 and reaching the NCAA tournament's round of 16 in 1995-96.
The program derailed shortly thereafter because of NCAA sanctions that stripped nine scholarships the past four years. The school's violations included recruiting and unethical conduct.
As the losses mounted, attendance plummeted. The men were consistently outdrawn by Tech's highly ranked women's team at the new United Spirit Arena. Coincidentally, Knight and Indiana were part of the first game at the $45 million facility when it opened in November 1999.
‘The General’ Has Been Courted
Hiring the 60-year-old Knight surely would boost Tech's ticket sales. And for all his off-court transgressions, "The General" has never been punished by the NCAA.
Knight's coaching credentials likely would help recruiting and could make Tech more of a contender in the Big 12, a deep basketball conference. The Red Raiders were third in the league's first season, but have been in the second tier ever since.
Since leaving Indiana, Knight has been rumored to be wanted by several colleges. He's also discussed jobs in television and has been spotted at NBA practices.
Knight has notified Indiana that he plans to sue the university over wrongful termination. A letter he sent accuses the school of slander, libel, inflicting emotional distress and interfering in his subsequent job search. It claims the university's actions cost him more than $7 million.
Dickey’s Declining Record
Tech endured four straight losing seasons before Dickey arrived. The Red Raiders went 15-14 his first year and didn't have a losing record until the recent skid began in 1997-98.
Dickey leaves his first Division I head coaching job with a record of 166-124 and two NCAA tournament berths. His final game was Thursday's loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, for whom Dickey worked at Arkansas and Kentucky, defended his friend's record.
"You can't ever criticize his coaching," Sutton said. "I've had some great coaches and James is as good as any of them. A coach can only take you so far."