B L O O M I N G T O N, Ind., Sept. 10, 2000 -- Indiana University president Myles Brand today announced the firing of head basketball coach Bob Knight after 29 years at the university, calling Knight’s behavior “uncivil, defiant and unacceptable.”
“I’ve been in higher education for 30 years … unquestionably, this is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” Brand said. “Bob Knight is a legendary coach at a school with a legendary basketball reputation.”
At a news conference today, Brand cited Knight’s “unacceptable pattern of behavior” that violated the university’s “zero-tolerance” policy, including verbally abusing a high-ranking female university official and “gross insubordination.”
The latest allegation is by 19-year-old freshman Kent Harvey, who says Knight grabbed him by the arm and cursed at him after the student called the coach by his last name. Knight denied acting inappropriately.
Brand said he gave Knight, who is currently on vacation in Canada, the option to resign this morning. Knight refused, and Brand told the Hall of Fame coach that he was fired.
The university will honor Knight’s contract, which will expire on June 30, 2002. A national search for a new coach will begin immediately, Brand said.
History of Misconduct
Knight won three NCAA titles at Indiana and coached the 1984 men’s Olympic basketball team to a gold medal. But his brilliant career has also been marred by several violent outbursts over three decades — from throwing a chair during a game, to allegedly throwing a vase at a university secretary.
The university finally said enough was enough last spring after accusations emerged that Knight had choked a former player during practice in 1997. The school launched a full investigation, finally reaching the decision to suspend the coach for three games, fine him $30,000 and adopt a “zero-tolerance” stance on future behavior.
Still, Brand said Knight repeatedly showed disregard for the sanctions handed down on May 15 following the investigation.
“I still believe we had to give him one last chance,” Brand said. “He failed to live up to that … His unacceptable behavior not only continued since then but increased.”
Details of Recent Incident
Brand insisted Knight’s confrontation with Harvey was not the only reason for the dismissal of the 59-year-old coach.
That incident occurred Thursday outside the university’s Assembly Hall.
“He grabbed me by the arm and just started saying stuff, which I got scared … I wasn’t really listening to him very well because I was just so caught up into how he got a handle on me,” said Harvey, who admitted he did not recall actually hearing Knight curse at him. “I don’t remember but my friend says he heard the F-word a couple of times.”
Knight held a news conference Friday to explain his side of the story.
“This kid looks at me and says ‘Hi, Knight,’” Knight recounted. “And as he’s moving I put my hand on the inside of his elbow and I looked at him and I said “Son, my name isn’t Knight for you, it’s Coach Knight or Mr. Knight.”
The coach said he didn’t curse at Harvey.
Teens: We Wanted an Apology
Meanwhile, Harvey and his two brothers have received numerous threats by phone and e-mail, said their stepfather Mark Shaw, a former local radio talk show host and a longtime critic of Knight.
Shaw said the teens never wanted to see Knight fired. An apology from the coach was all they wanted.
Harvey and his brothers want to stay at Indiana, Shaw said, and university officials have assured their family they will do whatever is necessary to ensure their safety.
ABC radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.