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Indiana Players Defend Knight Again

September 9, 2000

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Indiana basketball players rallied to Bob Knight’s defense once again Saturday, describing as ``ridiculous″ the accusation that their coach grabbed and berated a student who greeted him informally.

``It just baffles me that anyone would even consider letting Coach Knight go over something like this,″ guard Dane Fife said.

Fife joined other players at a team meeting Saturday before attending the Indiana-North Carolina State football game at Memorial Stadium.

Fife was among the Hoosier players who defended Knight earlier this year when the coach was accused of choking a former player during a 1997 practice.

Center Kirk Haston said Knight has been trying hard to live under a ``zero-tolerance″ warning issued in May as a result of that investigation.

``He’s making a big effort, and for this to come out and for people to try to make a big deal (out of) this is ridiculous,″ Haston said. ``We’re trying to get ready for the season.″

Knight denied that he grabbed a student’s arm and cursed him. He said he just held the teen-ager’s arm and lectured him about manners.

University president Myles Brand spoke with Knight on Friday evening to hear Knight’s version of what happened, school spokesman Cristopher Simpson said Saturday. He said a campus police investigation would be completed by Tuesday and sent to Brand.

Brand would decide if Knight violated the ``zero-tolerance″ policy, which prohibits Knight from using ``inappropriate physical conduct″ with members of the university community _ an act that could result in Knight’s firing.

Simpson said the crux of the matter is what constitutes ``inappropriate physical conduct.″ He said Brand will decide that after he reviews the police report.

Brand could confer with the university’s trustees before ruling. Simpson said the university considers the matter ``extraordinarily serious.″

``A decision of this magnitude is one that I’m sure he’ll want to confer with the trustees at an appropriate time,″ Simpson said.

The confrontation on Thursday came when 19-year-old freshman Kent Harvey, his two brothers _ Kyle and Kevin Harvey _ and two friends went to Assembly Hall to pick up football tickets. Kent Harvey and Knight passed each other at a doorway.

Kent Harvey said he greeted Knight with, ``Hey, what’s up, Knight?″

That prompted Knight’s admonition.

``I said, ’Son, my name is not Knight to you,″ Knight recalled during a news conference Friday night. ``It’s Coach Knight or it’s Mr. Knight. I don’t call people by their last name, and neither should you‴

Kent Harvey told the Herald-Times of Bloomington he did not hear Knight utter any profanities. But a friend who was with him, Jon Browning, said he clearly heard the coach curse once.

Kyle Harvey told the newspaper that Knight ``wasn’t yelling exactly, but he has a pretty intimidating voice.″

``He was in Kent’s face and said something about respect and call me coach,″ Kyle Harvey said.

Following a series of accusations earlier this year that Knight verbally and sometimes physically abused players, the university suspended him for three games and fined him $30,000 as part of the zero-tolerance policy.

The school also said the coach must follow a supervised code of conduct, which it has yet to fully detail.

The university trustees will meet Friday to review the newly drafted code, which will apply to all coaches and athletes, Simpson said.

Trustee Stephen Backer said Friday he could not comment on Knight’s conduct with the student. But he said earlier in the week that Knight would be wise to avoid any run-ins with students, players or others.

``He needs to keep in mind the university and the image of the university,″ Backer said. ``If he does anything that is going to denigrate or tarnish the university, he is going to leave us no choice. He shouldn’t continue to push us.″

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