It was the house of cards that coaching legend Bob Knight built. And all it took to knock it down was a slip of the tongue.
Kent Harvey said he didn't mean any disrespect. He saw Knight as he and three friends were walking through a corridor in Assembly Hall.
"My intentions were to say 'Hi, Mr. Knight,'" Harvey said. "It came out wrong. I said 'Knight.' The whole incident happened because I forgot to say 'mister.'"
Knight lectured Harvey, gripping him on the right arm and telling him he wouldn't have called Harvey simply by his last name. "I was shocked he was doing this," Harvey said. "He had this weird look in his eyes. He looked really pissed."
Harvey said he noticed tension on Knight's face an instant before he said hi. "I was trying to be nice and say hello," Harvey said. "It just came out wrong."
The domino effect proceeded when Harvey told his stepfather, Mark Shaw, of the event. Shaw urged Harvey to report the incident. "It should have been reported," Harvey said. "I thought what he did was wrong."
Since the Sunday announcement of Knight's firing, Harvey has received more negative attention than he could have dreamed when he started classes about two weeks ago.
His name was written on a flag that was burned, and a dummy that represented him was hung from a tree. There were "Kill Kent" T-shirts and "Wanted: Dead or Alive" posters. 500 angry messages flooded his e-mail inbox.
"I never expected this to happen in my life," Harvey said. "All I wanted to do was get an education. I guess I was in wrong place at wrong time."
Now Harvey and both of his identical brothers are out of town, waiting to see how the campus atmosphere will adjust as time passes.
As Knight spoke to students in Dunn Meadow Wednesday night, he directed students to let Harvey get on with his life.
"This thing had happened to me long before that situation took place," Knight said. "Believe me, that kid is not responsible for me not coaching at IU."
Despite Knight's plea to students, life at IU may never be the same for any of the Harvey triplets. Kyle Harvey said he had just gotten the routine of finding his classes nailed when the incident took the three away from IU.
"We went to the football game on Saturday," Kyle Harvey said. "The person I sat next to said 'You were on the news.' We left at halftime because we were nervous. Every time someone looked at us we wondered 'What are they thinking?'"
Kyle Harvey said seeing astonished reactions will make campus life hard. Time, Kent Harvey said, will tell whether or not the atmosphere at IU will be welcoming or not to the Harvey triplets.
"(We) love IU, we always have," Kyle Harvey said. "I wish everything would go back to normal so we could go back to school and have fun."
Although some students see Kent Harvey as a menace to a victimized Knight, Harvey said his opinions do not mirror those of his stepfather, who has been an open critic of Knight.
"I meant him no disrespect at all," Kent Harvey said. "I looked to him as a celebrity. I still have respect for him"
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