Work in Sports
Knight's fate to come down Monday
Investigation complete, trustees delegate to president
Posted: Monday May 15, 2000 01:02 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana coach Bob Knight will learn Monday whether his vow to work on curbing his infamous temper will be enough to save his job.
University trustees on Sunday ended a two-month probe into an allegation by a former student that Knight choked him. Then, they passed the ball to school president Myles Brand to announce a decision on Knight's future at a 4 p.m. EDT news conference Monday. Knight was not expected to attend.
Brand met at his campus home with Knight for two hours until midnight Saturday, and a school spokesman described the discussion as "vigorous." Earlier that day, Knight apologized for the temper tantrums that led to the investigation.
John D. Walda, president of the nine-member board of trustees and one of the two who investigated the allegations that Knight choked former player Neil Reed, looked somber as he left the meeting.
"The process has been," Walda said, pausing to choose the right word, "productive, and we're just about to conclude it."
One of Knight's strongest supporters among the trustees, attorney Stephen Ferguson, did not attend Sunday's 2-hour, 20-minute meeting. He said he recused himself from the discussion because he had negotiated Knight's contract with the university.
After hearing the report by Walda and fellow investigator Frederick Eichhorn, the board thrashed through the issues of the choking allegation and the other accusations of abuse by Knight that have cropped up, and came to agreement about what should be done.
No vote was taken, university vice president Christopher Simpson said, but the wishes of the board were clear.
Now, it's up to Brand.
"They certainly gave him advice and their opinions," said Simpson, who attended the meeting. "I think the discussions were candid, they were thorough, and if there was one compelling, underlying message, that is: What is best for Indiana University."
Brand's decision, Simpson said, will reflect the sentiments of the trustees and will not require any further meeting with the board.
Simpson insisted that "no decision has been reached" yet and that Brand has "a full range of options."
The investigation, which began in March after Reed accused Knight of choking him in practice three years ago, was expected to last until mid-June. That it ended a month sooner, amid numerous other allegations that Knight physically and verbally abused students, coaches and school officials, suggested to some faculty members that the trustees were bothered by the damage being done to the university.
"The reason to stop the investigation is they can't stand the pain anymore," said Murray Sperber, an English professor, author of three books on college sports, and Knight's most vocal critic on campus. "The way to stop the pain is to get him to resign or fire him."
Simpson said the investigation was completed with the report to the board Sunday.
"It was comprehensive, it was thorough, and it was exhaustive," Simpson insisted, though none of the details of the report were made public.
Simpson said Knight met with Brand on Saturday night in Bloomington, shortly after Knight returned from a fishing trip in the Caribbean.
The trustees met amid speculation they would consider asking Knight to resign rather than force a showdown that could lead to his dismissal.
Knight has won three national titles, but his temper has fueled one controversy after another since he became coach at Indiana in 1971.
His contract gives Brand the power to fire him if such action is recommended by the athletic director. Clarence Doninger, the athletic director, has been at odds with Knight for some time and reported to Brand in February that Knight nearly came to blows with him after a loss to Ohio State.
Meeting with the trustees and Brand were J. Terry Clapacs, vice president of administration, and university counsel Dorothy Frapwell.
Indiana forward junior Tom Geyer showed up for the meeting but was not allowed to attend.
"The players wanted me to come down here and speak for the players," Geyer said. "We also feel the trustees are going to make the right decision in this case.
"I didn't expect to get a chance to talk to the trustees. I just wanted to come down and show support for coach."
Jared Jeffries, the highly touted Bloomington North High School player who has signed to go to Indiana next year, has indicated he would reconsider his plans if Knight is forced out.
Assistant coach Mike Davis told The Indianapolis Star that six players or recruits have said they would leave or consider leaving if Knight is forced out: players Dane Fife, Kirk Haston and Kyle Hornsby, along with recruits Jared Jeffries and A.J. Moye. A third recruit, Andre Owens, said he wasn't sure.
On Saturday, Knight released a statement in which he apologized for his temper, acknowledged that he understands the need to be more diplomatic, and said that he is trying to control his emotions.
"I'm not very good at just forgetting something and going on, and I'm truly sorry about that," he said in the statement.
He made no mention if he would continue as coach, and he did not apologize for any of the incidents of alleged abuse. In fact, Knight said his temper was not a factor in the confrontation with Reed during the 1997 practice. In a videotape of the practice, Knight is seen grabbing Reed at the throat for several seconds while yelling at him, but Reed never appears hurt. Reed stays on the court as the practice continues.
Since the investigation began, there have been reports Knight once kicked Brand out of a practice and also showed players a piece of soiled toilet paper as a way of describing their play.
More recently, reports surfaced of fights involving Knight and a former assistant coach, the athletic director and the university's sports information director.
A secretary in the athletic department last week said an enraged Knight once threw a vase in her direction and more recently stormed into a waiting area, cursed and came toward her in anger before athletic director Clarence Doninger restrained him.
Security was tight around the trustees meeting because of expectations of large protests, but only two fans showed up to express their support of Knight.
In Bloomington, about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, the streets were quiet and the Indiana campus -- currently between the spring and summer sessions -- was virtually empty.
"In the end, no one will be satisfied with the outcome,
regardless of what happens," said David Pisoni, a psychology
professor. "The president will come out a loser, no matter what he