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Knight confused by 'zero-tolerance'

Coach compares allegation with previous incident



Coach Bob Knight sat in "the cave" of Assembly Hall, a room where he often spends hours reviewing game and practice tape, with his legs crossed and dark brows raised. He does a lot of thinking in that room, but Friday he seemed puzzled.

In the wake of another allegation against him, Knight wondered why the University implemented a "zero-tolerance" policy in May, but has not yet informed him what it entails.

Athletics Director Clarence Doninger said the policy will likely be outlined at a Sept. 15 meeting of the IU Board of Trustees.

But Knight is being investigated now.

Accusations were made early Friday that Knight verbally and physically assaulted freshman Kent Harvey for disrespecting the coach by calling him by his last name. Knight denied the allegations.

While the IU Police Department investigates the claim, and Harvey considers pressing charges against the coach, Knight's future at the University is as uncertain as the policy.

"I don't think my definition (of zero-tolerance) is the one that's applicable," Knight told the IDS. "I'd like to know what somebody else thinks - but nobody's been able to give me a definition."

Friday, Knight was unable to give an answer as to whether he would retire before his contract expires in 2002.

"I don't know," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Knight added he was "very sick" of the controversies he has endured in the past few months.

The only concrete restrictions on the coach since the May 15 culmination of a four-month IU Board of Trustees investigation, were a three-game suspension and a $30,000 fine.

At the time, IU President Myles Brand said Knight will be fired immediately if it can be verified the coach had "inappropriate physical conduct" with anyone while employed by the University. Brand added Knight could be fired for failing to act with "appropriate decorum and civility."

Mark Shaw, Harvey's stepfather, said Knight grabbed his stepson above his right elbow, "yanked him around, got in his face and started yelling at him." Shaw said his stepson told him Knight used profanities.

Knight compared the complaint to an incident in June of 1999 when he was accused of making a racist remark and choking a man who confronted him at the Nuestro Mexico restaurant in Ellettsville.

"I don't think that the whole thing - from an accusation standpoint - is a lot different than the deal at the Mexican restaurant, where the whole thing was a farce," Knight said.

Knight was never charged or punished in any way for that incident. Other complaints lodged against Knight, including "inappropriate contact" with former player Neil Reed, provoked the University into developing the zero-tolerance policy. When the University announced the decision to keep Knight and force him to adhere to a new code of conduct, even Doninger said it was unspecific.

"To have a zero tolerance process in the future, we've seen how hard that is to follow in some of the school systems," Doninger told the IDS in a May 16 article. "We've seen some cases where zero-tolerance can lead to unusual circumstance, unusual results."

Doninger said Friday that all inquiries regarding the recent allegation were to be directed to Christopher Simpson, IU vice president for public relations and government affairs.

While camera crews and reporters swarmed Assembly Hall, Knight had a few questions of his own.

"Let me ask you this; can you imagine ... being placed under these sanctions and grabbing some kid and screaming at him and cursing at him in a public place?" Knight asked. "There's one thing I'm not - and that's dumb. I've had restrictions placed on me, and whether I agree with those restrictions or not is not the point. The point is that if I coach, I have to live with these restrictions"

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