Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Knight firing causes chaos on IU campus

Player threats, coaching questions plague program

The Associated Press

        BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The General's iron hand still is on the Indiana basketball team.

        At the urging of Bob Knight, junior guard Dane Fife decided Monday to leave the Hoosiers. He said he does not think there is any reason to stay, now that his coach has been fired.

        Assistant Mike Davis, Knight's top recruiter the past two seasons and the key link to the team for many players, also said his future in Bloomington rests with Knight.

        “Whatever coach tells me to do, whatever the players say, I'm going to do,” Davis said Monday, walking out of Assembly Hall.

        Other players — many came to Indiana solely because of Knight — also were turning to their former coach for guidance. Junior forward Jarrad Odle said Knight made it clear to the team he's available anytime they want to talk.

        “He's going to be a friend to us now instead of a coach,” Odle said, standing outside the building where banners mark Knight's three national championships. “He's being a friend to us and trying to get us to the best place we can be.”

        What remains to be seen is whether the best place will be Indiana.

        “They've just got to simmer down and see what happens,” Davis said of the players. “It all depends on what coach says.”

        Knight, an old-school disciplinarian known as The General, was fired Sunday for a “pattern of unacceptable behavior.” The university faces the task of replac ing one of college basketball's great coaches while keeping together a team many considered the most talented Hoosiers squad in years.

        That squad gave IU athletic director Clarence Doninger an ultimatum Monday afternoon, saying if he doesn't promote Davis or assistant John Treloar to inter im coach, the entire team will quit.

        “You've got some quality people and they are stunned by all of this,” Doninger said earlier in the day. “They are hurt by all of this. There's no question they came to Indiana University to play for coach Bob Knight.”

        Doninger made it clear he wants Davis and Treloar to stay. When it comes to appointing an interim coach, Doninger said the university was examining its options.

        As for Knight, Davis and Odle said they're sure the coach won't have trouble finding work.

        “He told us he's going to coach again,” Odle said. “There's no doubt in my mind he's one of the best coaches in the nation and for him to not move on to another school would be a shame.”

        Knight's son, IU assistant Pat Knight, said Monday the experi ence has ruined Indiana University for him.

        “The university handled this poorly,” he said. “I'm ashamed to say I went here. I'll never do anything again for this university.”

        Would he stay on as an assistant?

        “Hell no,” Knight said. “I'm going with my Dad. I stand by him.”

        As does a large portion of the student body. On campus Monday were remnants of the previous night's rallying, where thousands of students displayed pro-Knight banners and burned in effigy likenesses of university president Myles Brand. Hanging by a rope outside one off-campus house was a stuffed figure with “Kent Harvey” written on its shirt.

        Harvey is the 19-year-old freshman whose run-in with Knight sparked the events leading to the coach's dismissal. A sign by the hanging figure said, “This is what we do to traitors.”

        Harvey said Knight grabbed him by the arm and cursed at him after the freshman greeted the coach at Assembly Hall by saying, “Hey, what's up, Knight?” Knight said he simply had held the student's arm and lectured him about manners.

        Regardless, Brand and other university officials saw the confrontation — and other misconduct that had not been publicized — as the final blow. After reprimanding Knight in May and putting him under a zero-tolerance policy, the university acted quickly, unwilling to let this latest episode linger.

        But Knight's spirit surely will stick around. Once a new coach is hired and the team moves forward, Odle said he believes his old, red-sweatered coach will continue to have an impact.

        “If he's at home and he watches us on TV and doesn't like the way we play, I'm sure we'll hear about it,” said Odle, smiling.

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