Work in Sports
Defending 'The General'
Knight's current, former players challenge accusations
Posted: Wednesday April 12, 2000 01:21 PM
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- Current and former players, as well as a former assistant coach, of Indiana coach Bob Knight challenged allegations by Neil Reed that he was physically and mentally abused by Knight three years ago.
At a Tuesday night news conference at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., Indiana basketball media director Todd Starowitz read statements from a former assistant coach and a former player, both of whom denied Reed's claim. Knight did not attend the news conference.
"I was an assistant when Reed was playing, and his allegation that I had to separate him from coach Knight is totally false," former Indiana assistant Dan Dakich, now the head coach at Bowling Green, said in his statement.
Former Indiana player Robbie Eggers said in his statement: "The statement that he was choked by coach Knight is totally ridiculous."
Knight declined to comment in the original CNN Sports Illustrated report and did not return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking reaction.
Senior A.J. Guyton defended Knight's methods, saying the coach helped him earn AP All-American honors this week.
"Without this system, without coach Knight challenging me, that would not have been possible," Guyton said. "I say that because at Indiana you know you're going to be challenged. I don't think Neil Reed understood that. In order to become an All-American, you're going to be challenged by a coach that pushes you to the limit. It's all a process of a boy becoming a man."
Senior Michael Lewis said the timing of the story would not bother Indiana at the NCAA tournament.
"We've been through a lot," Lewis said. "That's one reason were talking now, so we don't have to deal with it Thursday and Friday."
Knight last summer also was accused by a Bloomington man of choking him in a restaurant parking lot. The county prosecutor refused to file charges, saying Knight was provoked.
Starowitz said the timing of the report was "calculated" to embarrass Knight on the eve of the NCAA tournament. Knight was aware the story was in the works but refused to comment to CNN Sports Illustrated, Starowitz said.
Reed, a junior at the time, announced he would leave March 18, 1997, when Indiana was on spring break. He said he knew Knight was tough on his players, but he felt singled out for criticism.
"Everybody says you know what it's like," he told CNN Sports Illustrated. "I didn't know that was going to happen. No one knew that was going to happen. No one would believe that was going to happen, but it happened to me."
Reed also said Knight threw Indiana president Myles Brand out of a practice.
"Coach Knight could hear him and just stopped practice and said, 'Quit that talking. I don't come in your office and talk while you are working. Get the hell out of here.'"
Brand denied the claim. "Anyone who suggests otherwise is totally incorrect," he said in a statement.
University vice president Christopher Simpson said he was with the president at every practice he attended during Reed's years, and just about every one since. He told AP the report is a "total fabrication."
Simpson said he has never seen Knight physically abuse a player, although he acknowledged Knight yells.
"But don't most coaches?" Simpson said. "I'm not an expert on basketball, but I saw nothing at any of the practices I attended that I wouldn't expect to see at any other top-ranked team's practice."
He added: "If CNN is saying Neil Reed said it, then I question anything Neil Reed says."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.