Work in Sports
Q&A: Neil Reed on the punishment
Posted: Monday May 15, 2000 11:10 PM
Neil Reed, whose allegation in a CNN/Sports Illustrated report that Bob Knight choked him provoked Indiana's seven-week investigation, joined CNN/Sports Illustrated's Vince Cellini to discuss the school's decision to keep Knight as coach.
Vince Cellini: Neil, thanks for being with us.
Despite video evidence you were choked in practice, despite the fact that almost any other coach in America would be dismissed for that act alone -- let alone a litany of other wrongdoing -- Bob Knight gets to stay on in Bloomington. Does that bother you?
Neil Reed: Not really. My expectations in this whole thing were never to cause harm to anyone -- coach Knight, the school, anything. I simply wanted to tell the truth and to get out from under that thumb, and that influence. I didn't want to be that kind of person any more.
The decision doesn't surprise me, it's just something I have to see on TV and live with and go on.
VC: So you felt coach Knight would survive, job wise?
Reed: To be honest, this whole situation just kind of tumbled into something humongous. People want to call it a witch hunt, or this or that. But that was never my intention at all. I've just tried to ... at least give the people that need to know the knowledge, so they can do the right thing, for young people, for adults, for anyone who's ever been touched by situations like this.
And I don't think the board of trustees, or Myles Brand, have done anything for kids anywhere in situations like that. I think this just tells people not to stand up, not to risk your life for the truth, and that upsets me very much.
VC: So you think Indiana had a chance to really do something and teach a lesson? Do you feel they missed out on that opportunity?
Reed: Punish Bob Knight, not punish Bob Knight, that's not up to me, that's up to them. I was just simply giving them the knowledge -- this stuff goes on.
Coach Knight has been doing this stuff for a long, long time. The university has chosen not to see it, not to tell about it, not to do anything about it. And I was trying to give them another chance to do the right thing, on behalf of kids everywhere who try to do the right thing, like I've tried to do.
VC: You came to light with this situation, then we had the video evidence, but yet there are Knight supporters who see that and still don't believe you were choked, still don't believe the soiled toilet paper incident ever happened. What does that tell you about Knight's power and protection in Bloomington?
Reed: Nothing new for me. I've seen that first hand. I think this is just a showing to people around the country what that power is like.
Nothing's going to change in this situation. Coach Knight is going to be coach Knight, and coach Knight is going to go out his own way. This university has a serious problem that it needs to address some time, and it's not coach Knight. It's themselves. They need to come to grips with the truth and run the school like it should be run.
VC: Now Bob Knight is under a "zero tolerance policy" at Indiana. You've been as close as anyone to Knight in a basketball situation. Can this guy change his approach to coaching after over 30 years of doing it his way? Can he change and be a kinder, gentler coach Knight?
Reed: Coach Knight is smart. I think he can adapt, I think he's always going to be Bob Knight to a certain extent, doing the things that he's done in the past. I've seen him be extremely nice, and I've seen him be extremely mean. Whichever one he wants to do more often he'll do. Its just going to have to be the nicer guy for a while, at least till this blows over. But coach Knight's not going to change. He's going to try to win games at all costs. And, it seems like sacrificing kids, and doing whatever it takes to win is how it's going to be up there.
VC: Well, Bob Knight will apologize to secretary Jeanette Hartgraves, the woman he screamed at in the Indiana offices. Neil, you get no apology --- how does that sit with you?
Reed: Well, I've never asked for an apology, that has never been uttered out of my mouth. ... I believe that she deserves an apology, as do a ton of other people, including myself. I've never asked for it, but to go out of your way not to apologize -- that does bother me.
I'm a young man, I'm 24 years old, I've done nothing to coach Knight or to that school. But I've been discarded by both coach Knight and by that school, and I've simply tried to rid myself of that influence. Whether he apologizes to me or not doesn't matter, but just the fact that the point was made not to doesn't sit well with me, and I can't accept that.
VC: I imagine that your life has changed forever, but Bob Knight goes on in Bloomington. How do you try to put this behind you or somehow find closure?
Reed: I don't believe it's possible. I'm not even close to being the same person I was six years ago when I went to Indiana. I'm not complaining, I've just had to make some decisions in order to get through some bad situations.
I'm talking day-to-day -- you've got to do what makes you happy, and I've kind of forgotten about focusing six, seven, eight, 10 years down the road, and I'm focusing on day-by-day. I'm going to go to grad school next year, so I do have focus. I'm smart enough to do something besides basketball. To be honest, I'm excited to get rid of all this.
VC: OK, Neil Reed, thank you for joining us. Good luck in the future.