Work in Sports
Brand on the spot
IU president already scrutinized for Knight treatment
Posted: Sunday May 14, 2000 04:40 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Indiana University President Myles Brand, under scrutiny for his handling of Bob Knight, on Sunday assumed responsibility for the fiery coach's future.
His decision, either way, is sure to leave some people unhappy and dissatisfied. But that goes with the job, national education officials told The Indianapolis Star.
"There's no playbook for how you handle this sort of a situation," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C.-based association representing 1,800 colleges and universities.
As allegations have surfaced about Knight's conduct around players and co-workers, questions also were raised about whether Brand and his staff responded properly.
Brand also has been criticized for his decision to keep the Knight investigation in-house. Critics had urged an independent inquiry.
The board of trustees on Sunday turned the Knight investigation over to Brand. Brand was expected to issue a decision Monday.
Purdue University President Steven Beering said he doesn't believe the Knight controversy should make or break Brand, IU's president since 1994.
But he acknowledges that a university president is the "ultimate person responsible."
"You can never say the buck doesn't stop here," Beering said.
A university president must "deal with all the politics, and that's very difficult," said Donald L. Caruth, a business professor and management consultant for more than three decades.
"But that doesn't excuse him from taking action, and it doesn't relieve him of any legal responsibility," Caruth said.
Brand's predecessor, Thomas Ehrlich, publicly criticized Knight only once, in 1988, for comments the coach had made about rape in a televised interview. Ehrlich endured a backlash from angry fans -- and never publicly criticized Knight again.
While some say that Brand's handling of incidents involving Knight could raise questions about his leadership, officials at other universities don't think Brand's job hangs in the balance.
While Knight has been the most visible person at IU for years, Brand is respected and admired by his peers, said Hartle, of the American Council on Education.
Caruth, now a professor at Amber University in Garland, Texas, has written 19 books on management issues. He said Brand can continue in his job, but only if Knight is gone.
"It it's not taken care of, there are going to be bigger problems in the future," he said. "As we say in Texas, he's just going to have to fess up and say, 'Maybe this wasn't handled correctly.'"
Where managers are willing to take responsibility for a problem, "people are willing to forgive them for it," Caruth said.