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Community divided in wake of firing



Freshman Nic Alexander has a plaque in his kitchen that reads, "The Lord is my shepherd but Bobby Knight is my coach."

He was among a group of 10 family members and friends who absorbed news of Knight's termination together Sunday at The Gables Restaurant, 114 S. Indiana Ave. They shared dinner, company and the news that a man they admire had lost his job.

Particularly at IU "institutions" such as the Gables and Nick's English Hut, 423 E. Kirkwood Ave, the community of Knight's most ardent supporters expressed outrage while his critics found justice in the decision.

While IU President Myles Brand spoke during the afternoon press conference, the family members lunching at The Gables shook their heads silently.

Hadley Siamoas, 16, cried as the announcement was made.

"For as long as I can remember, he's been my idol," the Indianapolis native said.

Hadley's father, Harry Siamoas, a member of the class of '72, believed that, sooner or later, the zero-tolerance rules would get the coach in trouble.

"I really feel like the University set him up to fail. It was an impossible situation for the coach," he said. "I think it was unfair to coach Knight to set up this policy."

He also blames the media for bringing down Knight, saying the University and administration could no longer deal with the media attention.

At Nick's English Hut, decorated from floor to ceiling with years of IU paraphernalia, the scene was the same.

After hearing the news, Roger Bowlen felt numb. A third generation Bloomington resident, Bowlen grew up watching IU basketball. He remembered screaming himself into a migraine after the Hoosiers beat Syracuse, hugging fraternity members outside Kilroy's on Kirkwood after a victory and plastering his walls with IU memorabilia.

"I will never buy a stinking bit of IU merchandise again in my life," Bowlen said Sunday at Nick's. "I considered dumping it all and burning it on the Assembly Hall lawn."

Sitting nearby, Chicago resident Brian Potrafka was pleased to be in town for what he considered a historical event. Potrafka was surprised but satisfied with Brand's decision.

"Based on what Myles Brand says, (Knight) seems to flagrantly say, 'Screw you, I'll do what I want,'" he said. "I give the administration a ton of credit. This makes you feel good ' that the white frat boy clique will not rule the universe."

Jeffrey Willsey, a city councilman for District 4, said the decision was more than a sports issue -- it was an educational and cultural one.

"I thought Brand handled himself well. He set the issues very clearly and he represented the University's interests. I hope (Knight) still remains in Bloomington and continues to be a happy contributing citizen."

Though most community members had a strong opinion one way or another, Bloomington resident Ben Duncan was somewhat ambivalent.

"All those years, people made him a folk hero because of what he was," he said. "I think it's a little unfair to ask a person to change after 30 years."

Staff writers Aline Mendelsohn and Gina Czark contributed to this report.

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