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Fined and suspended, Knight to stay as Indiana coach

Posted: Monday, May 15, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana coach Bob Knight has ``one last chance'' to keep his job and control his famous temper.

Suspended, fined and ordered to apologize, Knight saved his job Monday by saying he will try to change his ways following an investigation into a claim that he choked a player in 1997.

Any act that violates a supervised ``zero-tolerance policy'' or is deemed to be embarrassing to the university will result in his immediate dismissal, said university president Myles Brand.

Knight's longtime ``pattern of inappropriate behavior ... cannot and will not be tolerated,'' Brand said.

Knight must sit out three regular-season games next season, pay a $30,000 fine, and issue an apology to the athletic department secretary he berated and threatened in two incidents.

``Any failure on Coach Knight's part to meet these standards will be cause for further sanctions, up to and including termination,'' Brand said.

The seven-week investigation followed accusations by former player Neil Reed, who said Knight choked him during a practice that was caught on videotape. During the inquiry, other accusations of verbal and physical abuse emerged.

Knight, who has won three national championships in his 29 years at the school, did not attend the news conference. Leaving his office in Assembly Hall in Bloomington shortly before the news conference, Knight declined to talk to reporters.

``Why talk now when so many things have been said without ever giving me a chance to talk?'' Knight said as he walked away. However, Knight was repeatedly asked to comment on the events and the investigation in recent weeks, but consistently declined.

Trustee John Walda read a statement to reporters in Indianapolis in which Knight said: ``I recognize I have a problem with my temper. ... I am sincerely sorry.''

Walda said the inquiry, which included interviews with 29 people and help from a private investigator and a videotape expert, did not conclude that Reed was choked.

But Walda said Knight clearly grabbed Reed by the neck, and that in itself was wrong.

Athletic director Clarence Doninger, who was involved in a fight with Knight after a loss to Ohio State in February, expressed skepticism the coach will be able to change his behavior. Doninger also said he was annoyed that he had not been included in the decision-making process.

Some faculty also were skeptical that Knight will change.

``It's going to continue and continue,'' said English professor Murray Sperber, an outspoken critic of Knight. ``This is a horrible hit for the image of the university.''

An expert in anger management said Knight will find it ``extremely difficult'' to control his temper over time.

``The real test of his behavior will be six months from now when he's got his team behind closed doors,'' said psychologist Dennis Marikis, an anger management consultant in Ohio.

Yet Brand felt it was important to allow the 59-year-old coach to return.

``I think the ethical approach is to give him one last chance,'' he said.

``He has given me his word that he will take extraordinary steps to change behavior. We have established tough, specific guidelines to send a clear message that abusive and embarrassing behavior will not be tolerated.''

Brand detailed the sanctions one day after trustees met in private to discuss their investigation into Knight's behavior. The trustees then turned over Knight's fate to Brand.

``There are no sacred cows at Indiana University and that certainly includes the basketball program,'' Walda said.

Brand said he met with Knight on Saturday to discuss his future, then met with him again before making a decision.

``The conversation I had with Bob was clearly unique,'' he said. ``I had never seen him before contrite and apologetic.''

He said he had considered firing Knight.

``As the discussion proceeded and Bob expressed the view that he very much wanted to change his behavior ... then we began to talk about sanctions,'' Brand said.

On Saturday, the day before the trustees' meeting, Knight issued a statement in which he first apologized for his temper and acknowledged he needs to be ``more diplomatic.'' He did not apologize to individuals or for specific episodes.

The Hall of Fame coach guided the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in 1984. But his successes often were overshadowed by his bullying behavior on and off the court - from throwing a chair to profane outbursts against the media, players, fans and university employees.

In March, Brand appointed two trustees to investigate Reed's accusation.

Reed left the program in 1997 and transferred to Southern Mississippi after claiming he was physically and mentally abused by Knight. He did not elaborate in public at the time, but an interview with CNN/Sports Illustrated, aired just before the start of this year's NCAA tournament in March, led to the investigation.

Indiana ended up losing its first-round NCAA game against Pepperdine, putting Knight's overall record, including six years at Army, at 763-290. He is 661-240 and has won 11 Big Ten titles with the Hoosiers.

Other charges that surfaced during the investigation included one in which Knight allegedly attacked assistant coach Ron Felling in November. Felling left the team five days later.

Knight also reportedly clashed with Doninger after a loss late last season. A university secretary, Jeanette Hartgraves, said that 12 years ago Knight threw a vase that shattered near her, and that in 1998 he cursed her and had to be restrained by Doninger.

Brand said Knight would apologize to Hartgraves and Doninger.

``I'm happy,'' said Jarrod Odle, one of three Indiana players at the news conference. ``Coach is going to have to make a change, and he's going to have to do things different. But overall we've still got our coach and we've still got our team, and I think we can work through it.''

Knight's flare-ups are storied. Among them:

- In 1979, Knight was sentenced to six months in jail for hitting a Puerto Rican policeman during the Pan Am Games. Indiana's governor refused to extradite him, and Puerto Rico later dropped efforts to have him returned.

- At the 1981 NCAA finals in Philadelphia, Knight was involved in a hotel shoving match with an LSU fan who said Knight stuffed him in a garbage can.

- During the 1984-85 season, he threw a chair across the court during a game against Purdue. Knight was ejected and suspended for one game and later apologized.

- He was suspended for one game in 1993 after a sideline tirade in a home victory against Notre Dame. Knight screamed at his player-son, Pat, and then appeared to kick him in the leg. When fans behind the Indiana bench started booing, Knight turned and responded with an obscenity.

- After the Hoosiers' home finale against Wisconsin the next season, Knight took the public address microphone and recited a profane verse directed at his critics.

- In 1995, he was reprimanded and fined $30,000 by the NCAA for a profane outburst at a postgame news conference in the NCAA tournament.

- He was fined $10,000 by the Big Ten in 1998 for berating a referee.



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