Indiana Daily Student

Knight bids farewell

'The General' wishes students well, criticizes administration

Knight addresses students in Dunn Meadow Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2000.

“The General” had his last stand Wednesday night in front of more than 6,000 people. Coach Knight bid IU goodbye in an emotional speech in Dunn Meadow.

Bob Knight fans and protesters from across the region turned out to hear what he had to say. Knight addressed everything from his future plans to the reason for his termination.

”This was an opportunity for Coach Knight to address the students and hopefully take care of some of the questions and suspicions of the students,” said Zeta Beta Tau President J.J. Flotken, a senior, “and put closure on the situation.”

The first spectators started arriving at 3:30 p.m. By 5 p.m. Dunn Meadow was covered by the masses. Sigma Chi members piled on top of their Seventh Street house to get a bird’s eye view of the speech.

Some audience members went to praise Coach Knight, and some went to see him go.

”I came to see my dream come true,” freshman Elizabeth Craig said. Craig, a friend of Kent Harvey, supports the University’s decision to fire Knight. 

Some Knight supporters traveled far to see Coach Knight speak.

Jack Briggeman came early from Tell City, Ind., to get a position in front. “Bobby Knight is a god ... I wanted to make sure we see him.”

Knight, with wife Karen and lawyer Russell Yates, arrived at 6:30 to a deafening cheer from the crowd. Multi-colored posters with creative catch phrases all had the same basic message: We support our coach.

Knight started his speech by recognizing his wife’s efforts to keep him focused on the importance of students to the basketball program. Knight urged the crowd to return the favor by participating in the walk/run Karen is organizing to help the fight against cancer.

After Coach Knight kissed her, Karen Knight said, “I hope what he just did won’t be termed inappropriate physical contact.”

After the cheers subsided, Knight started his speech with the crowd’s full attention.

”I’m here, talking to you as students in the year 2000, but what I think I am really doing, is talking to all students who have attended the University since 1971,” he said.

Knight elaborated on how the basketball program has been a cooperative effort by many parties, but particularly the students. Current students and the students over the past 29 years made him proud and have stuck by the team, even in difficult times, he said.

”One thing I have always taken pride in, with the student body, is how hard the students had rooted for us,” he said.

Knight said he believes the traditional Assembly Hall, one he has “tried to keep free from commercialism” will have to start advertising more to make up for lost contributions to the basketball program.

”You will see a new Assembly Hall, I’m sure. When you go there this year there will probably be ads in it, for everything from dog biscuits to Pepsi-Cola, I would imagine.”

Knight then submitted a request to the crowd with his fist clenched tight.

”The same support that our teams have had for the past 29 years,” he said, “is the same support these kids playing on this team this year should get from you students.”

Absolving Kent Harvey of blame, Knight told the crowd Harvey had been led astray by his stepfather.

”Let him be a student,” Knight said. “And let him get on with his life. This thing had happened to me long before that situation took place. That kid is not responsible for my not coaching at Indiana.”

Knight issued a warning against the University administration, saying that they were “experts at spinning the truth.” 

Nonetheless, he urged students to do the best they could with the opportunities they are given at a “great university.”

The University has no comment on Knight’s remarks, said George Vlahakis, a University spokesman.

Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Christopher Simpson said Knight’s speech was “very generous.”

”If I were in his shoes, I probably would have said something very similar,” Simpson said.

Knight awarded many thanks to his fans from his past and those who helped him get into coaching. Knight asked the crowd to wish him and his family luck, as he will be looking for a new job opportunity.

With tears in his eyes, Knight ended his speech with a wish for all the best to his fans and left the meadow.

Lt. Jerry Minger of the IU Police Department said he was happy with the students’ conduct during the rally. 

”We expected the crowd to be calm and nonviolent and just come here to see the Coach speak. We did not think the Coach would try and incite any kind of violence, and that is what it was,” he said.

Minger said he was also pleased that Knight publicly said fans shouldn\’t blame Harvey and hopes the students will satisfy this request. 

The IDS coordinated the location, sound systems, platforms and security with help from members of Zeta Beta Tau.

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