Thursday, January 03, 2002

IU's Davis: Knight was bully

Coach testifies his methods, style were inappropriate

The Associated Press

Indiana's Mike Davis.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University basketball coach Mike Davis expressed loyalty to Bob Knight after he was fired but later said he didn't approve of Knight's methods, according to sworn statements in a lawsuit.

        Asked by an attorney if he would describe Knight as a bully, Davis said, “Yes.”

        Asked if he thought Knight's coaching style was appropriate, Davis said, “No.”

        “I mean, if we were sitting here now, and if you said something that he didn't like, he would go off, scream and yell and curse at you,” Davis said during the deposition in October.

        Davis' deposition was taken in a lawsuit that former IU assistant coach Ron Felling filed against Knight, alleging the coach attacked him. His deposition and that of another assistant, John Treloar, were placed under protective order at the request of IU, but they were released to Indianapolis television station WTHR after it filed a motion for them. The station reported the contents of the depositions Wednesday.

        Knight was fired from IU in September 2000 for what the university called a “pattern of unacceptable behavior,” which culminated in his encounter with a student he grabbed and scolded for addressing the coach only by his last name.

        Though Davis' comments are not surprising given Knight's infamous temper, they do run somewhat counter to the loyalty Davis expressed in the days following Knight's firing.

        Davis had indicated he would do whatever Knight told him to do in the wake of the firing.

        “Whatever coach tells me to do, whatever the players say, I'm going to do,” Davis said at the time.

        Then Davis was offered and accepted the interim coaching job, and eventually was named the Hoosiers' new head coach. Davis has said Knight never contacted him after he was named coach.

        Knight is now head coach at Texas Tech. Messages seeking comment were left for Knight at the Texas Tech athletic department.

        Knight's attorney, Russell Yates, said Wednesday that it made no sense for Davis to criticize Knight.

        “I noticed Indiana's 7-5 and I noticed Texas Tech is 11-1,” Yates said. “I don't think Coach Davis was trying to criticize Coach Knight's coaching style, since I don't think there's any comparison.”

        Davis, who was in Evanston, Ill., Wednesday for a game against Northwestern, could not be reached for comment. A message was left for him on his cell phone.

        Jeff Fanter, spokesman for IU's athletic department, said the university has read the deposition but had no comment because the litigation was pending.

        Another wrinkle in Davis' relationship with Knight involves Davis' attempts to get a head coaching job while Knight was still head coach at IU. According to Davis' deposition, he wanted a job at Tulane but felt Knight did not do enough to help him get the position.

        Davis said Knight told him he should not go after the job.

        “I said I wanted it, because I'm from the South,” Davis said. “And his response was, I don't give a f— what you think, you know, it's a bad job.”

        Davis said he thought Knight didn't help him get the job because he didn't want to have to interview a new person for Davis' job.

        “Look at all the coaches in the United States today who were assistants for Bob Knight,” Yates said. “I can't even count them all. Coach Knight always busts his butt to help coaches.”

        Davis in his deposition also addressed rumors that Knight has tried to interfere with IU's basketball program since his departure. Davis said outright that he has no direct knowledge of such activity.

        But he said he has heard that Knight called recruits and told them not to go to IU, and persuaded center Kirk Haston to leave IU early to turn pro.


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