Indiana Daily Student

Petition is front for Knight loyalists

"The General" has retreated from Assembly Hall. So why do we have to keep beating his dead horse?\nA group of alumni are circulating an Internet petition, www.takebackiu.com, calling for the upper University administration to resign. Its targets are President Myles Brand, Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Christopher Simpson, Athletics Director Clarence Doninger and the board of trustees.\nThe group of alumni, Take Back IU, says it is concerned about a "significant decline" in IU's national academic ranking, "division and incivility" between faculty, administration and students and increasing secrecy in upper-level decisions. Take Back IU cites as examples recent mediocre academic rankings and the Brand-trustees meeting before firing former basketball coach Bob Knight that the state's public access counselor said skirted open meetings law.\nWe are reporting about some of those same issues, and as a student newspaper we support anyone exercising his or her First Amendment rights by signing the petition.\nBut we question the motives of the group. Upon closer scrutiny, the petition seems to be based on the discontent of Knight loyalists still upset by his Sept. 10 firing.\nLook no further than two of the names at the top of the list, Simpson and Doninger. These were the two officials besides Brand that Knight criticized the most after his firing. But frankly, it's a tough sell to pin the University's academic troubles on the athletics and PR bosses.\nWhere are other administrators involved in academics, such as key deans or Bloomington Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis -- who serves all campuses as Vice President for Academic Affairs -- on their list? Knight didn't criticize them, and they didn't show up on the petition.\nAnd where did Take Back IU decide to unveil its petition, say, under the Sample Gates? Nope. Try Assembly Hall and IU basketball's Midnight Madness.\nThe petition is clearly Knight-focused, and therefore lacks credibility when making academic charges against the University.\nIn fact, Gov. Frank O'Bannon isn't going to pay attention to the petition when it hits his desk. Phil Bremen, press secretary for O'Bannon, told the IDS that O'Bannon's position is to let the president and board of trustees determine IU's future. "The governor is … very emphatic that universities should run their own affairs," he said.\nInstead of using academic excuses to punish those who fired their beloved Knight, Take Back IU members should simply say they disagree with Brand's decision.\nIn the end, there are better ways to enact change than to lump basketball and academic troubles together, wrap them up in a petition and send it to a governor who will ignore it.

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