Work in Sports
Ex-Hoosier Lawson: I saw Knight punch a player
Posted: Monday May 22, 2000 10:48 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Former Indiana University basketball player Chris Lawson made another allegation of abuse against Hoosiers coach Bob Knight.
Lawson, who played at Indiana from 1989-91 before transferring to Vanderbilt, told The Tennessean for its Monday editions that he saw Knight punch another player in the head at halftime of a game.
Knight also pelted Lawson with basketballs from close range one day during practice, berated his assistant coaches and was verbally abusive to players, Lawson said.
Lawson, who grew up in Bloomington, Ind., currently is a pharmaceutical salesman in Salina, Kan.
The allegations come on the heels of an IU investigation into a claim Knight choked player Neil Reed during a 1997 practice. Several of Reed's IU teammates said his claims were unfounded -- until a videotape of the incident was played on CNN/Sports Illustrated.
Knight was suspended last Monday for three regular-season games and fined $30,000 by the university.
Lawson, 29, said he was never contacted during the investigation and didn't come forward because he feared being made a pariah, just as Reed was.
In his most serious charge, Lawson said Knight struck a player in the side of the head with a closed fist during halftime of a Dec. 21, 1990, game at Iowa State. The players were seated in the locker room when the incident took place.
Lawson refused to identify the player, saying only "he was another big guy" on the team, and the player hasn't come forward himself because of fear he'd be vilified. "He screwed up in the game, and at halftime Coach actually punched him in the head. It was a punch on the side of his head," Lawson said.
"The same guy, in practice when he would make a mistake, Coach Knight would grab his shorts and kick him as hard as he could in the butt, and after practice there would be bruises and stuff," Lawson told the newspaper.
When contacted by The Tennessean, Matt Nover, a 6-foot-9 forward on that team, acknowledged he remembers a "heated situation" at halftime of the Iowa State game between himself and Knight.
"I was not hurt by the man, and I don't think I was ever abused," Nover said when asked about specifics. "He never struck me with his fist."
When asked whether Knight struck him using an open hand, Nover replied: "I've made my statement. You know, the man was intense. He got in our faces, and that was his way of motivating us.
"Whatever happened in that locker room was between all of us," Nover said. "... He was upset with me like he has been with players in 1,000 games before, and like any other coach would be with any other player who was playing bad and not doing what he was supposed to do.
"In no way was I abused or hurt. He let me know that I was making mistakes, and we went back on the floor and continued to play the game," Nover added.
"I'm amazed that the media continues this direction with these sensational stories, day after day, after day, after day," said university spokesman Christopher Simpson. Knight currently is on a golfing trip in Scotland, according to Simpson.
Chris Reynolds, a 1993 Indiana graduate who played in the game at Iowa State, said he never witnessed Knight punching a player.