Originally created 05/12/00

Hoosiers should let night go

If it's Friday, then an athletics department secretary at Indiana University must be coming forward with the latest Bobby Knight allegations about an out-of-control bully with no checks or balances.

Her name is Jeanette Hartgraves, and she alleges that nearly 12 years ago Knight vented his frustrations one afternoon by chucking a vase in her 5-foot-4 direction. Pieces of glass and porcelain shattered, and the incident never reached Knight's personnel file for fear of repercussions.

That she's finally coming forward with the illicit details reveals as much about Knight as it does about the Bloomington campus that has tolerated, feared and supported this bully for more than three decades.

You don't need a 66-year-old secretary to be the final straw in KnightGate. If the folks at Indiana had as much spine as Knight has anger, they'd stand up to him and, once and for all, say good night.

Thanks for the 763 wins. The three national titles. The undefeated season in 1976. The Olympic gold in '84. The seven former players who've moved on to become head coaches.

Thanks for all that, but no longer will you generate negative publicity for our campus or our community. No longer will we open up our newspapers or turn on our televisions to read or hear about another person you may or may not have attacked.

Indiana's trustees are just now getting around to thinking about asking Knight to resign, a decision five years too late in coming.

Indiana investigating Knight is sort of like boxing investigating its own corruption. The school will do anything to protect its boor. Does anyone expect anything but bent backs and kid gloves to come from this internal study?

Not when the demagogue is 33 years on the job and has enough supporters to fill the Hoosier Dome three times over.

But listen to what Hartgraves told the Indianapolis Star about the vase incident: "I hadn't been here too long, and I didn't know what to do. ... I was frightened to see someone that mad."

First to speak out was guard Neil Reed, thought to be the quintessential Knight player, who claimed he was choked in practice. CNN/SI then produced the videotape evidence. That alone would bring a pink slip to you or me. To Knight, it's reason to launch an investigation.

Players who've transferred from Knight's program, most notably Reed and Georgia Tech's departing center Jason Collier, recoil in fear when telling stories of Knight's verbal and physical abuse.

What is it going to take for the university and the state to confront him? Does he need to punch an opponent, a la Woody Hayes at the Gator Bowl? Does he need a John Rocker I-Hate-The-World soliloquy?

And even that might not be enough to drop the ax on his thickening head.

He's already thrown a chair; used soiled toilet paper as halftime motivation; head-butted a point guard; kicked his own son on the sidelines; gotten into a fight with a man at a restaurant; fought with another son during a hunting trip; acted with insubordination toward his boss and his secretary; and seen four of his better players in the last half of the decade transfer away.

Not to mention no Big Ten titles since 1993; no first-team All-Americans since Calbert Cheaney; hasn't won two games in the NCAA Tournament since 1994; lost by 20 points to Pepperdine in the first round last March.

If you don't want to believe the peripheral about Knight's off-the-court antics, just study his recent record. He's a tyrant who can no longer squeeze the most from his players.

He's relying on a record formed years ago, while the game of college basketball evolves around him. If Knight's too stubborn to resign, then stand up to him and fire him for the good of everyone associated with college basketball.

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219.


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