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Bob Knight, the sixth-winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball history, had his Hall of Fame career highlighted by three national titles. Indiana — coming off an undefeated season — and countless on-court outbursts, died Wednesday, his family said.
He is 83 years old.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of coach Bob Knight at his home in Bloomington surrounded by his family,” the Knight family said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate your continued respect for our privacy. Coach requested a private family meeting, which is being honored , father, coach and friend.”
Knight became the youngest coach at a Division I school in 1965 when he entered the Army at age 24. But he made his mark in 29 years at Indiana, including winning a school-record 661 games and reaching the NCAA Tournament 24 times in 29 seasons. . Knight’s first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no other team had accomplished.
In 1984, he coached the gold medal-winning US Olympic team in Los Angeles, the last American amateur team to win Olympic gold. Knight compiled a career record of 902-371, winning 20 or more games in 29 seasons.
In 2000 Knight was expelled for violating a “zero tolerance” conduct policy at Indiana by grabbing the hand of a freshman who greeted him by his last name. It was the latest in a long list of violations that included his most infamous incident — throwing a chair during a Purdue game — and several other physical altercations.
Most notably, Knight apparently choked Neil Reid in a practice game in 1997.
Knight later left Texas Tech as basketball coach in 2001 after being fired by Indiana six months later for what school officials there called an “unacceptable pattern of behavior.”
In Knight’s six full years at Tech, he led the Red Raiders to five 20-win seasons, a first at the school. Knight hired former North Carolina coach Dean Smith on Jan. 1, passing as winningest Division I men’s coach in 2007, career win no. Scored 880. To celebrate the milestone, Knight chose Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” He navigated his personal and professional worlds.
Back then, Knight explained why “My Way” is so relevant.
“I tried to do what I thought was best,” Knight said. Sorry it was my way and when I look back on it, I don’t think my way was that bad.”
Knight resigned as Texas Tech’s basketball coach midway through the 2008–09 season, his 42nd year as a head coach, and retired from college basketball. He later served as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
What he did and how he did it made Knight a legend. However, it was the influence and discipline he brought to coaching that made him stand out.
“Outside of my immediate family, no one person has had a bigger impact on my life than coach Knight,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Knight at Army and surpassed his mentor as the winningest Division I college basketball coach in 2011. “I have the ultimate respect for him as a coach and mentor, but still a dear friend. Over 40 years, the life lessons I’ve learned from Coach are immeasurable. Simply put, I love him.”
Robert Montgomery Knight was born on October 25, 1940 in Orrville, Ohio, and was a basketball, baseball and football star at Orrville High School. While a player at Ohio State, his teams compiled a 78-6 overall record. The Buckeyes won the national title in 1960 (Knight went 0-for-1 with a personal foul in a 75-55 loss against California in the title game and averaged 3.7 points to win Big Ten titles that season) for the Knights three seasons.
After his college career, he went into coaching and was an Army assistant when Tates was promoted to head coach after the lockout.
Knight spent six years (1965-71) at Army, going 102-50, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 from 1971-00. Wearing his trademark red sweater, he won national titles in 1976, ’81 and ’87.
Knight was elected and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. Previously, Knight had asked that the Hall of Fame not be renamed, calling the voters’ rejection of him in 1987 a “slap in the face.”
He had a complicated set and a long record of outbursts over the years. He was accused and later convicted of beating a policeman in Puerto Rico, punched Indiana player Sheron Wilkerson in the head while yelling at him on the bench, accused of wrapping his arms around a player’s neck and kicking his own son (Knight actually said he kicked the chair the son was sitting on).
He gave black Indiana player Calbert Cheney a fake whip during practice for the 1992 NCAA West Regional, offending many black leaders. Knight denied any racial comments and was given a bullwhip by the players.
But he never violated NCAA rules. He always had a high graduation rate and returned his salary a few years after coming to Lubbock because he didn’t think he had earned it.
“I’m very fortunate and blessed to have played for him. He made me a better person and I’m grateful for that,” said former Indiana star and current Nevada coach Steve Alford.
Knight’s firing of then-Indiana president Miles Brand was unpopular in the state of Indiana, where Knight still had many supporters.
Indiana officials have tried for years to mend fences with the man who led the Hoosiers to a school-record 661 games, but Knight steadfastly refused all attempts to reconcile the school, former players and fans — and refused to participate in any. IU Activities.
He avoided team reunions and refused to attend his induction into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, saying he didn’t want to detract from his presence from other class members.
However, everything has changed in recent years.
The thaw began in earnest in 2019 when he made a surprise appearance at an Indiana baseball game. In July, he bought a house 3 miles from the basketball arena.
Then in February 2020, he finally returned to Assembly Hall for the Indiana-Purdue game. He was met with roars of approval from the sold-out crowd, which included dozens of former players.
Knight walked with his son Pat. He hugged Isaiah Thomas. He was assisted in the arena by Quinn Buckner. And Knight pretended to direct Scott May in a training exercise, leading the fans in a chorus of “T-Fence, T-Fence.”
“It’s one of the biggest and most emotional things for me,” said former player Randy Whitman, who was instrumental in the reunion. I said when they came back here. ‘You stay here..’