While making a rare appearance in the Hoosier State, long-time University of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight was making headlines with his mouth…somethings never change. Knight was speaking at an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame fundraiser in downtown Indianapolis a few days before calling the Butler University/Xavier basketball game Saturday from Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The man best known as “the General,” said integrity is lacking in college basketball and cited Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.
“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching,” he said. “You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”
Coach Knight is referring to John Calipari’s two prior stints at the University of Massachusetts and Memphis University. Both Memphis and Massachusetts were forced to vacate Final Four appearances by the NCAA for infractions made during Calipari’s tenure, though Memphis is appealing the penalty. Calipari was not implicated in either case by the NCAA.
Calipari refused to get into a war of words Friday when asked about the pointed criticism from Knight that Calipari’s continued employment proves the game has a problem. Instead, Calipari said he remains a “big fan” of the former Texas Tech and Indiana head coach.
“I don’t agree with what he says but it doesn’t change how I feel about him,” Calipari said, adding that Knights comments surprised him.
“I get up to go to mass this morning and there’s like 100 text messages and I’m like what in the world happened?” Calipari said. “And I get word and what I can tell you is I’m a big fan, respect him as a basketball coach, always have.”
|Hall of Fame Coach Bobby Knight did not disappoint the crowd of nearly 1000 who came in the hopes of hearing some classic banter from the General.|
Knight also criticized a proposed tournament expansion to 96 teams, saying nobody should get a bye in the NCAA tournament.
He urged the governing body’s administration to require tournament teams to submit eligibility reports, an effort to assure that players who are competing in postseason games have been attending classes and earning acceptable grades.
“And very few people know this, but a kid can play the first semester as a freshman, pass six hours of anything and play in the NCAA tournament without ever attending a class in the second semester. I don’t think that’s right.”
Knight also said he was glad to be out of coaching because he no longer had to deal with poor officials or incompetent administrators.
This was Bobby Knight’s first appearance around the Indianapolis area since he declined to attend the Indiana University Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony last month in Bloomington, IN. Knight was one of six inductees in this year’s class. Read more about why Knight said no here.
In Knight’s three decades of coaching at IU, he lead Indiana to three NCAA national championships in 1976, 1981 and 1987. The 1976 team had a perfect record of 32-0, and is the last Division-I men’s basketball team to go undefeated. This fact alone has made Coach Knight an Indianapolis sport legend. Bobby Knight also holds both the school-record for wins with 662 and the Division-I men’s basketball record with 902.
Knight was fired from Indiana University in 2000 after a number of hot tempered run-ins with players, team and school officials. He is now a college basketball analyst on ESPN.