Indiana Daily Student

Knight rebuts 'zero-tolerance' claims

Bob Knight sat on his back porch Wednesday morning with his attorney to his left and one of his best friends to his right. His wife Karen was inside their home. These are now the people he surrounds himself with ' family, friends and attorneys. These are the relationships the former coach has sustained.\nAfter about three days of "I-said-he-said" debates, a man who is arguably one of the country's greatest basketball coaches, was fired. But the tension began long ago.\nKnight said his relationship with athletics director Clarence Doninger and the University "started to deteriorate" in 1993 when Knight was accused of kicking his son Pat during a Notre Dame game. Knight said he kicked a chair, not his son, and "all Doninger had to do was ask Pat" for the truth.\nSince then, Knight's career has twisted and turned like a highway with numerous roadblocks on the way. Now the coach is considering all options, and said that while there is no "(Ron) Felling versus Knight" case, there might be a "Knight versus Felling" case. When asked if he was considering legal action against the University, Knight said he "was considering all options." The one thing Knight is sure of is that he's going to write a book.\nWhile Knight is looking to move on with his life, so are Doninger and Christopher Simpson, vice president for public affairs and government relations. Both Simpson and Doninger refused to comment on Knight's Wednesday interview with the IDS.\n"IU is going to go forward. I am not going to rehash allegations and discuss them any further," Doninger said.\nDoninger became athletics director in 1991. IU President Myles Brand took his position in 1994, the same time Simpson joined the University. Knight said that from the beginning, he was not comfortable with the new administration. But Wednesday, Knight seemed comfortable disputing Brand's allegations against him. \nSunday, Brand said Knight was guilty of making "angry and inflammatory remarks about University officials and the University Board of Trustees." Knight admitted he cracked a joke at one of his wife's cancer benefits. \n"I made the comment that I'd always prided myself in going from point A to B unless somewhere in between sat the Board of Trustees. I thought it was kind of a comical remark. \n"Apparently, the Board of Trustees can talk about how bad my behavior is, and I'm not supposed to reply. All during that time I was asked not to say anything. And I didn't."\nThe University had no comment through Simpson.\nBrand also said there was an "unwillingness by Coach Knight to work within the normal chain of command in the IU Athletics Department."\nKnight substantiated his side by reading highlighted sections of his contract, which he helped write in 1981.\n"The chain of command statement is absolutely ridiculous," Knight said. He read: "During the period that Coach is head basketball coach, he shall have approval of all matters associated with men's varsity basketball at Indiana University."\nHe looked up from the paper.\n"I'm the athletic director for basketball and that's how I set this up when I set this up back in 1981."\nHe read it again, his booming voice echoing through the backyard.\n"There's never a need for me to act through an athletic director," he said. "Never. I schedule. I hire. Everything that needs to be done with basketball, I do."\nDoninger declined further comment.\nIn the Sept. 7 memo ' the only communication Knight said he had with Doninger since May ' Knight outlined several issues he felt the department needed to address. \nOne of the main points was that Todd Starowitz, football and basketball media relations director, be paid $10,000 promptly for assuming the role of basketball media relations director as well as the media relations director for football. He was supposed to be paid before the summer began. Starowitz confirmed he still has not been paid for work done last season. Doninger had no response.\nKnight read another statement from his contract: "Coach shall make four speaking engagements per year at University functions … The selection of the specific University functions shall be at Coach's discretion, but shall include at least two Varsity Club functions."\n"And that's exactly what I followed," Knight said.\nHe read it again.\nKnight spoke at the Southern Indiana Alumni Dinner, the aforementioned cancer benefit, the Varsity Club golf tournament, and he planned on speaking to the student body.\nBrand also said Knight refused to stay in Bloomington Saturday night when asked to and instead went on a fishing trip in Canada.\n"I was called a little after 10:30 on Friday night," Knight said. "I have a plane to catch in Indianapolis at five o'clock the next morning. I'm going to Presque Isle, Maine. Here's what I was asked to do: `I would like for you to stay and cancel your trip so I'll be able to call you after I meet with the Board of Trustees.'\n"So I listen to this, and my answer is: `No, I'm not going to do that. I've had enough things thrown at me to ruin my life in the last five months. This thing was set up six months ago. It's been paid for, there are people counting on me being on this trip.' "\nKnight said he found a phone in Eastern Quebec and called his wife for updates.\n"Do you think it was necessary for me to stay here for a phone call? And (Brand) is a guy that I have not heard from since May 31."\nWhile Knight and Doninger have had their differences, the coach said he never had a relationship with Simpson. Knight said, "I kind of liken Simpson and (Brand) to Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Burgen," Knight said. "When I see something that the president says, I immediately know Simpson has written it." Burgen is a ventriloquist and McCarthy is his puppet.\nKnight's wife, Karen, said she felt the effects of the new administration. She could tell things were changing.\n"I had mentioned to him several times that I was sensing that it was not a good situation," Karen Knight said. "He wasn't a good fit for this administration, and that's fine. So he goes on."\nWith family, friends and attorneys.\nIDS reporter David Uchiyama contributed to this story.

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