Brand said that Knight would personally apologize to Hartgraves. But there was no sign that he would be apologizing to Reed—even though John Walda, me of the two trustees Brand had put in charge of the investigation, agreed that Reed had been grabbed by the neck in an action hat "cannot be tolerated."
Brand's indulgence means Knight still has a chance to break Dean Smith's Division I record for career victories, which stands 116 wins away. But it left uncertainty hanging over the program. Would the new Knight really bow to Clarence Doninger, the athletic director with whom he has clashed and whom Brand has appointed to chair a special commission to establish guidelines for coaches' behavior? "I definitely think there's division [in the athletic department]," said Dane Fife, a sophomore guard, on Monday. "That's all I'm going to say." If this meant that Knight and Doninger weren't going to be able to work together, Brand would have none of it. "Normalization and professional interaction will be the order of the day, period," he said.
What if more revelations surfaced about bad behavior in Knight's past? "If something comes out that's worse, we'll take action," Brand said. But Walda added, "I don't anticipate that anything significant is out there that we don't know about."
Asked why Knight hadn't agreed to attend Monday's press conference, Brand said the coach was embarking on "a long-scheduled trip." In fact, only five minutes before the president began the conference in Indianapolis, Knight had delivered a surly refusal to an interview request by reporters outside his office in Assembly Hall. Apparently the new Knight would not emerge until after Brand announced the transformation in Indy.
"It's an embarrassment to the state and the university," said David Pisoni, a psychology professor, upon hearing of the deal. "This demonstrates the priorities of the university. Athletics come before moral and ethical conduct. The revenue stream is more important than credibility."
As much as the investigation turned up, it was clearly one for which the school at first had little stomach. Two months ago, when CNN/SI aired a report that Knight had choked Reed, brandished soiled toilet paper in front of his players and kicked Brand out of practice, Brand denied the last of these charges and asked Walda and another trustee, Frederick Eichhorn, to investigate them. Walda, a Fort Wayne lawyer, had already said publicly that "I would put no stock in" Reed's allegations. Brand originally stipulated that the inquiry would look only into Reed's allegations—not into physical threats that Knight had made to Doninger after Indiana's loss to Ohio State on Feb. 19; not into former Hoosiers forward Ricky Calloway's charge that Knight had struck two of his teammates, Steve Alford and Daryl Thomas, during the mid-1980s (both deny that Knight ever hit them); not into the account of Butch Carter, a former Indiana co-captain who's now coach of the NBA's Toronto Raptors, that Knight had used a racial slur during the early '80s; not into a report that two years ago, Knight had prevented the transfer of one of his stars, Luke Recker, by threatening to quit and thereby bring down on Recker the wrath of the state. However, in his charge to the trustees, Brand did ask them to look into "the timing of the report" from CNN/SI, as if someone might have had it in for the Hoosiers by airing such unpleasantness on the eve of the NCAAs. Only after the videotape surfaced on April 11—it confirmed the essence of Reed's charge that he had been choked, if not all its particulars, and contradicted the claims of Knight and others that nothing of the sort occurred—did the probe begin to range farther afield. At Monday's press conference Walda even acknowledged an incident that hadn't yet come to light in which Knight had failed to promptly break up a fight between two players at practice.
To be sure, the administration found itself in a pickle: How much was Knight really at fault when the school had been his enabler, deep in a denial of its own? The chain of command had long ago gone kerblooey. Knight's contract assures him the right of approval of matters pertaining to the basketball program, a clause that essentially exempts him from having to report to his nominal superior, Doninger. It also provides for his termination if he engages in "personal conduct which would be grounds for punitive discharge of any employee of the university generally," meaning that he could have been fired in the past but got nothing worse than a slap on the wrist. Though Brand emphasized that Knight had been quietly penalized for previous transgressions, the president seemed to contradict himself when he said, "Given the fact that in the past he hadn't had such guidelines, I believe the ethical approach is to give him one last chance."
Yet keeping Knight on could have even more damaging repercussions for Indiana's image. The coach's last refuge—the integrity so often invoked in his defense—no longer stands. Knight lied about the circumstances of Felling's departure. He lied about the incident with Reed, trotting out members of his team and staff to testify in his behalf, including All-America guard A.J. Guyton, whom the videotape depicts looking right at Reed as Reed is choked. He oversaw the release of unflattering revelations about former players who backed up Reed's charges or lodged allegations of their own. All this mocked a school whose motto is Lux et veritas—Light and truth. High graduation rates are all well and good, but what's the degree worth when it comes from a university where you get fired for merely expressing an opinion, as Felling was?
For years Knight has kept in his office a plaster statue of Gen. George S. Patton. It was Patton who in 1943 berated and struck two soldiers hospitalized with shell shock, accusing them of malingering during the Seventh Army's Sicilian campaign. The act drew strong condemnation on the home front, even calls for his dismissal. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered Patton to apologize publicly, and after he did so, Patton retained his command.
But through 661 basketball victories there'd been no Supreme Allied Commander in Bloomington. While the university has vowed to rein Knight in, the revelations that led to Monday's announcement exacted a huge cost. The public now knows that Knight's virtues come freighted with conditions. Knight is loyal—to those who meet an excruciatingly demanding test of devotion to him. He's honest—when the truth also serves to veil his program and consolidate his power. He does believe in discipline—for others, but not for himself. Brand is betting what's left of his school's soul that Knight will suddenly consent to submission. Or simply rack up a few more victories. "If we win a lot of games, all this will die down," said Jared Jeffries, the state's Mr. Basketball, who will be a freshman at Indiana in the fall. "People love winners."