"Call him and get him back here," Knight ordered. Alford was found and called back. More angry words. Alford listened and didn't answer, but he was furious. Finally, Knight told him, "You can just get out and don't bother coming back until I call you. I don't want to see you."
This is another Knight test. The proper response is to show up at practice the next day as if nothing has happened. In this case, though, Knight was taking a risk. Alford had been thrown out twice. Maybe, just maybe, he would call Knight's bluff and not come back.
"It may run through your mind," Alford said later. "But, hey, I understand what he's doing. I don't always like it, I don't always think it's fair. But I understand. I have to be an example."
And so the next day Alford came back. He was a starter again. He had passed his first test of the season.
Indiana was 2-0 after it beat Notre Dame 82-67 on Tuesday, Dec. 3, but Knight wasn't about to stop and celebrate. As soon as he had finished his postgame press conference and had seen all the well-wishers, Knight turned to his staff and said, "Well, let's go figure out how to beat Kentucky."
Knight was on a high. He knew Indiana could beat Kentucky the following Saturday. The coaches watched tapes of the Wildcats until 2 a.m. The locker room writing board was filled with things to work on. Practice would be light the next day because Knight was going on a recruiting trip. As he walked to his car, a light snow falling, Knight looked back at the now-empty Assembly Hall. "I can't tell you just how good that felt tonight," he said.
The joyride lasted 48 hours. On Thursday the team filed out of the locker room for practice in a light, happy mood. It didn't last. Waiting on the floor was Chuck Crabb, the athletic department's promotions director. In Crabb's hand was a calendar that had been put together by a sorority to raise money for a summer camp for handicapped girls. The calendar featured attractive Indiana male students. Mr. February was Steve Alford.
Crabb was pale as he and Knight talked in one corner of the gym while the players were warming up. Alford was even more pale when Knight, his voice cutting the air like a knife, yelled, "Steve!" The other players tried not to look as Alford trotted over to Crabb and Knight.
By posing for the calendar Alford had broken an NCAA rule, though that had never occurred to him when the sorority women approached him about posing. He received no money, and the sorority would make no money. In the calendar shot Alford wore a sport coat, a shirt open at the neck and slacks. It was hardly a risqué pose. But none of that would matter to the NCAA, a body that time and again has shown itself to be incapable of policing collegiate athletics. Players are given cars, money, horses, you name it, and the NCAA rarely proves any of that. Many of the powers in college football and basketball cheat. Most exploit their athletes and have embarrassing graduation—or nongraduation—rates.