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Trustee: Knight’s Apology Saved Him

May 21, 2000

Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight probably would have been fired had he not convinced the school’s president that he really wanted to learn to control his temper.

``He was real close to not being there,″ trustee Ray Richard said Saturday on CNN/Sports Illustrated’s ``Page One″ television program. ``When I went into the final meeting at which we were going to make a decision, I was going to vote to fire him, and I think the majority of the trustees agreed with me.″

Instead, a seven-week investigation into Knight’s outbursts of temper ended last Monday with the coach being sanctioned.

This followed an unexpected, last-minute apology from the Knight. When IU president Myles Brand _ who instituted a zero-tolerance policy _ decided that Knight was contrite, the coach’s job was saved.

Knight was suspended for three games, fined $30,000, ordered to apologize to a secretary he verbally abused and given a strict set of ground rules for future conduct.

IU English professor Murray Sperber said he was concerned about that, and said Brand revealed a double standard by admitting the coach had not been reprimanded in 29 years even though several instances of inappropriate behavior were investigated.

``What I fear is that this (zero-tolerance policy) will turn into a horrible circus far overshadowing the academic aspects of this university,″ Sperber said.

An e-mail survey conducted during the program asked viewers how long they believe Knight will continue coaching under the zero-tolerance policy. Fifty percent of the respondents said Knight won’t survive to the end of the season.

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