Bob Knight, the sixth winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball history whose Hall of Fame career was highlighted by three national titles at Indiana – including an undefeated season since unmatched – and countless explosions on the ground, died Wednesday, according to his family.
He was 83 years old.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Coach Bob Knight has passed away at his home in Bloomington, surrounded by his family,” the Knight family said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as Coach has requested a private family gathering, which is honored. We will continue to celebrate his life and remember him , today and forever, as a beloved husband, Father, Coach and Friend.”
Knight became the youngest coach at a Division I school in 1965 when he entered the Army at age 24. But he made his mark in 29 years at Indiana, including winning a school-record 661 games and reaching the NCAA tournament 24 times in 29 seasons. . Knight’s first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no team has accomplished since.
In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles, the last U.S. amateur team to win Olympic gold. Knight won 20 or more games in 29 seasons, compiling a career record of 902-371.
Knight was ultimately kicked out of Indiana in 2000 for violating a “zero tolerance” behavior policy by grabbing the arm of a freshman who he said had greeted him by his last name. It was the latest transgression in a long list, which included his most infamous incident — throwing a chair at a Purdue game — and accusations of numerous physical confrontations.
The most notable involved Knight apparently choking player Neil Reed during practice in 1997.
Knight then left to coach basketball at Texas Tech in 2001, six months after he was fired by Indiana for what school officials called “unacceptable behavior.”
In Knight’s full six years at Tech, he led the Red Raiders to five 20-win seasons, a first at the school. Knight passed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith as the winningest Division I men’s coach of the time on January 1, 2007, earning career win No. 880. To celebrate the milestone , Knight chose the song “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, a mantra to explain how he navigated his personal and professional worlds.
At the time, Knight explained why “My Way” was so appropriate.
“I just tried to do what I think is best,” Knight said. “Regrets? Sure. Just like the song. I have regrets. I wish I could do things better sometimes. I wish I had a better answer, a better way, sometimes. But like he did said, I did it. It was my way and when I look back on it, I don’t think my way was that bad.”
Knight resigned as Texas Tech’s basketball coach midway through the 2008–09 season, his 42nd year as head coach, and left college basketball. He later worked as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
What he did and how he did it made Knight a legend. However, the influence and discipline he brought to training made him special.
Robert Montgomery Knight was born October 25, 1940 in Orrville, Ohio and was a star basketball, baseball and football player at Orrville High School. While he was a player at Ohio State, his teams compiled an overall record of 78-6. The Buckeyes won the national title in 1960 (Knight was 0-for-1 with a personal foul in a 75-55 win over California in the title game and averaged 3.7 points as a replacement that season) and won the Big Ten titles all game. three of Knight’s seasons.
After his college career ended, he became a coach and served as an Army assistant when he was elevated to head coach, succeeding Tates Locke.
Knight spent six years (1965-71) in Army, going 102-50, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 from 1971 to 2000. Dressed in his characteristic red sweater, he won national titles there in 1976, 1981 and 1987.
Knight was elected and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. Previously, Knight had asked not to be reappointed to the Hall of Fame, calling voters’ rejection of him in 1987 a “slap in the face.”
It was a complex set and had a long history of explosions over the years. He was charged and later convicted of hitting a police officer in Puerto Rico, head-butting Indiana player Sherron Wilkerson while he was yelling at him on the bench, and wrapping his hands around a player’s neck and allegedly kicking his own son (Knight claimed he actually kicked the chair his son was sitting in).
He also fake-whipped Calbert Cheaney, a black Indiana player, during a 1992 practice for the NCAA West Regional, offending several black leaders. Knight has denied any racial connotations and notes that the whip was given to him by the players.
But he never broke NCAA rules. He always had a high graduation rate and gave his salary back a few years after arriving in Lubbock because he didn’t think he deserved it.
Knight’s firing by then-Indiana President Myles Brand remained unpopular in the state of Indiana, where Knight still had a multitude of supporters.
Indiana officials have tried over the years to repair tensions with the man who led the Hoosiers to a school-record 661 games, but Knight has steadfastly refused all attempts by the school, former players and fans to make peace – and refused to participate in any events. UI Activities.
He did not participate in team meetings and even refused to attend his induction into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, saying he did not want his presence to harm other members of the team. class.
However, everything has changed in recent years.
The thaw began in earnest in 2019, when he made a surprise appearance at a baseball game in Indiana. In July, he bought a house 3 miles from the basketball stadium.
And then in February 2020, he finally returned to Assembly Hall for an Indiana-Purdue game. He was greeted with roars of approval from a packed house, among which were dozens of former players.
Knight entered with his son Pat. He hugged Isiah Thomas. He was helped into the arena by Quinn Buckner. And Knight reveled in the moment, pumping his fist, pretending to lead Scott May in a training drill and even leading fans in a chorus of “Defense, defense.”