Work in Sports
'Absolutely, totally untrue'
Knight denies allegations that he intimidated student
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Indiana coach Bob Knight called an accusation that he cursed at a student "absolutely, totally untrue," saying he simply gave the teen-ager a lecture about manners while holding his arm.
Nonetheless, the school is investigating the confrontation and considers the matter "extraordinarily serious," university spokesman Christopher Simpson said Friday.
Knight has been under scrutiny since he was accused of choking a player during a 1997 practice, and he was told in May he would be fired if he didn't adhere to a "zero tolerance" policy imposed by the university.
"I would have to be an absolute moron -- an absolute moron -- with the things that have been laid on me to grab a kid in public, or curse a kid in public, as apparently it's been said that I did," Knight said at a news conference.
The stepfather of the 19-year-old student told ESPN.com that Knight confronted his stepson Thursday at Assembly Hall after the teen greeted him with, "Hey, what's up, Knight?" The student was picking up football tickets at the building, which also houses the basketball arena.
Knight said the confrontation occurred as he and the student crossed through a doorway. The coach diagrammed on a blackboard at the news conference how their paths crossed and then re-enacted the encounter with assistant coach Mike Davis, showing how he briefly held the student's arm.
"This was simply a matter of manners and civility," he said. "I don't think my voice ever rose above a conversational tone.
"That is what happened and that's entirely what happened and any deviation from that ... is absolutely, totally untrue."
Knight also called it an "interesting coincidence" that the student was a stepson "of a guy who over the years has probably been the most vitriolic critic I've had."
The stepfather, Mark Shaw, a former radio talk-show host, said Knight took the teen by the arm, whirled him around and began cursing him.
"There were still finger marks visible on his arm," Shaw told The Indianapolis Star.
"I don't care if we're talking about Bob Knight, the president of the United States, or some guy off the street. That kind of conduct is not tolerated," he said. "My stepson was shocked and intimidated by Knight."
The teen, Kent Harvey, said he addressed Knight "on the spur of a moment" as they were passing each other.
"I called him by his last name and he blew up," he said in an interview with WRTV-TV in Indianapolis. "I froze. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do."
Davis, who saw the confrontation, said there was no violence and no profanity. "He never said a curse word, he never raised his voice," the assistant said.
University police said the student and four witnesses had been contacted, but that school conflicts and Knight's schedule could hinder the investigation.
Following a series of accusations that Knight verbally and sometimes physically abused players, the university suspended him for three games and fined him $30,000.
The school also said the coach has to follow a supervised code of conduct, which it has yet to fully detail, and will be fired immediately if he violates it or has physical contact with any player or university employee.