Originally created 03/12/98

Knight pays fine to stay on bench



WASHINGTON -- Bob Knight paid a $10,000 fine himself rather than give up his seat on the Indiana bench for the start of the NCAA tournament.

Faced with a fine or a one-game suspension for haranguing a referee, the Hoosier coach chose to pay the Big Ten out of his own pocket. Now he's free to coach Thursday's tournament opener against Oklahoma.

The referee did not escape punishment, either. The Big Ten placed restrictions on his conference assignments next season.

"Coach Knight has wide latitude in carrying out his responsibilities but also has an obligation to comply with the letter and spirit of conference standards governing sportsmanlike conduct," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "In this case, coach Knight's postgame comments violated conference standards."

This is the third time in Knight's 27 years at Indiana he has drawn a fine of at least $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Knight said the university "reluctantly agreed" to let him to pay the fine.

"The payment will be made under protest and without prejudice with respect to any legal rights that may be asserted by coach Knight," the school said.

As of last April, Knight earned $145,500 a year as coach, although he is estimated to make as much as $400,000 from endorsements, TV and radio appearances and his summer basketball camp.

Shortly after Knight's decision was announced, the object of his wrath was penalized. Referee Ted Valentine was censured by the Big Ten for improperly calling a technical during the Indiana-Illinois game. He will not be allowed to work games involving Big Ten teams during the nonconference part of the 1998-99 season.

Big Ten associate commissioner Rich Falk, citing NCAA policy, would not say where, or if, Valentine was officiating during the NCAA tournament. Such decisions are not disclosed until 20 minutes before gametime.

Valentine called three technicals against Knight and ejected the coach during the Feb. 24 game. Knight called Valentine's officiating the "greatest travesty" he had seen in his 33 years as a college coach.

The Big Ten said the first and third technicals assessed against Knight by Valentine were proper. But the second technical was "clearly erroneous ... because Knight went onto the floor to attend an injured player."

When the Big Ten gave Knight a choice between accepting a fine or a one-game suspension, the university appealed the ruling on Monday. A day later, the Big Ten rejected the appeal.

The committee that heard Indiana's appeal included faculty representatives and administrators at Big Ten schools.

The conference's conduct code prohibits coaches from intentionally inciting participants or spectators to violent or abusive action and publicly and unduly criticizing referees.

Knight received one technical foul in the first half, then picked up another -- an automatic ejection -- with 9:37 left in the second half after Luke Recker was injured.

On the play, Illinois' Sergio McClain grabbed the rim, drawing a technical. Knight argued that Recker's shot should have counted as a basket because of goaltending, but officials correctly ruled that when McClain grabbed the rim, the ball was automatically dead. Therefore, no goaltending.

Knight was given a technical for leaving the coaching area to check on Recker, who was still on the floor. Valentine then gave him a third technical. As the coach left the Assembly Hall floor, he made a point of walking in front of Valentine at midcourt.

In 1985, Knight was suspended for one game after throwing a chair across the court. He also was suspended for one game in 1993 when he screamed at his son, Pat, a member of the Indiana team, and kicked him in the leg. When fans behind the Indiana bench booed, Knight responded with an obscenity.

Knight also was reprimanded and fined $30,000 by the NCAA for an outburst at a news conference during the NCAA tournament in 1995. He also drew a $10,000 fine and a reprimand in 1987 after banging his fist on the scorer's table during an NCAA tournament game.

Early the next season, Knight was reprimanded by the university for refusing to let his team finish an exhibition game after he was ejected for arguing with a referee.