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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Simpson recalls role as IU's voice

A year ago, former men's basketball coach Bob Knight likened Christopher Simpson, then-vice president for Public Affairs, to a "puppet" and a "spin doctor."\nNine months later, Simpson resigned from his position and left the University.\nHe has no regrets about the Knight firing or his resignation.\n"There's nothing to gain in reliving events that happened a year ago," Simpson said from Baltimore, Md., during a phone interview. "I left to pursue opportunities in the private sector. I started my own marketing and strategic firm."\nHe vehemently added that his leaving had nothing to do with the Bob Knight firing last September. \nBut rumors swirled at his departure in May, which came after former athletics director Clarence Doninger's retirement. In less than one year, Knight, Donniger and Simpson, three prominent IU figures and leading role players, left the University. \n"There is no correlation to the three of us leaving the University," Simpson said. "We all know why Bob Knight left. Clarence Donniger was over the age, and I left to pursue other opportunities."\nSimpson was the first person to find out that CNN/SI was investigating the infamous choking incident between Knight and former IU basketball member Neil Reed. When Simpson received the phone call, he said that he realized the situation was going to be "long and difficult."\nWhat he termed a "lose/lose" situation for the University was only heightened by the early September 2000 incident between former IU student Kent Harvey and Knight.\n"I received a phone call from Kent Harvey's (step) father Mark Shaw on Thursday informing me that something had occurred," Simpson said. "I don't think it is going to benefit anyone by reliving that conversation, but the first time I had heard about it was from him."\nSimpson said the first contact he had with the media was when Andy Katz of ESPN.com called him the Friday morning after the incident to get confirmation that Bob Knight was involved in an altercation.\n"I confirmed the rumor," Simpson said. "When we learned that (IU President Myles Brand) had launched an investigation, all I said was that our response was that the charges were serious, but it would not be fair to anyone to make any further comments."\nSimpson said he had a "strong personal relationship" with Knight. Knight took full aim at Simpson and Brand in the days and months following the firing. During those months, Simpson said he received sizeable amounts of e-mails and phone calls from Knight supporters, but said that came with the territory.\nAfter nine tumultuous months, Simpson stepped down. \nHe would not reveal the conversations he had with Brand leading up to his decision to leave, only stating that Brand said he would support Simpson in his decisions. Simpson denies he was asked to step down.\n"I don't know where those rumors (that I was asked to leave) came from," Simpson said. "Is there somebody that is hinting to that? I left on my own."\nSimpson now heads his own company, Simpson Communications, LLC, and maintains a home in Bloomington. But even though he left his job as spokesman for the University, he continues to speak highly of the University and of Brand.\nAs for the Knight firing, Simpson said it was the right thing to do at the time, and that he has no regrets of anything that happened last September.\n"It was a privilege to work at Indiana University for the past seven years, but it was time for me to go in a different direction professionally and personally," Simpson said. "My only regret is the football team lost to N.C. State. I was at the game and was dismayed at the football team"

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