Numerous media sources report that former IU coach Bob Knight, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I and Big Ten history, has resigned as Texas Tech's basketball coach. Pursuant to his contract, former Hoosier player Pat Knight will become the head coach at Texas Tech. As yet, there is nothing on the official TT site, but check here for updates if you are so inclined. If this is the end for Knight, he finishes his career with an all-time Division I record of 902 wins. He won 661 games in 29 seasons at IU, plus three NCAA titles, one NIT title, a title in the short-lived College Coaches Association postseason tournament, and eleven Big Ten titles.
Knight currently has a complicated relationship with the school where he enjoyed his greatest success. Knight was fired in September 2000 by former IU president Myles Brand. Brand, instead of helping the IU community heal after a painful episode, elected to use his new-found fame resulting from the Knight firing to his professional and financial advantage. Brand gave a number of self-congratulatory speeches and interviews in the aftermath of the Knight firing and ultimately parlayed his status as a hero to university presidents by becoming the president of the NCAA. Brand resigned as IU president on October 10, 2002 to become president of the NCAA, effective January 1, 2003. Brand gave IU less than three months notice of his resignation, an incredibly short notice period for a university president, and forced IU into a lengthy interim presidency. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Knight should have been fired. That Myles Brand placed his career ahead of the interests of the IU community is beyond debate in my mind.
Unfortunately, Knight has been embroiled in litigation against IU in the seven years since his firing. Knight isn't in the IU Athletics Hall of Fame, and it seems fairly clear that he would decline the honor if offered. Despite significant turnover in the president's office, the Board of Trustees, and in the athletic department administration since September 2000, Knight has shown no inclination toward mending fences. When he broke Dean Smith's Division I wins record, he pointedly avoided any public mention of IU. His resentment toward the IU leadership is understandable, but "IU" is more than its administration, of course, and includes the fans who so staunchly defended him after various misunderstandings and worse. Knight doesn't much like Kelvin Sampson, so any reconciliation in the near future seems unlikely.
For years, Dick Vitale blathered on about how IU should name the Assembly Hall court after Knight before someone informed Vitale that the court already is named after Branch McCracken. As sick as I am of Vitale's well-worn material, I certainly do hope that Coach Knight will someday come back to be honored as he deserves, that he will allow IU fans to give him the proper sendoff that he never received. If I had to bet I would predict that it will never happen, but I hope I'm wrong. Nevertheless, IU fans owe much to Knight, who whatever troubles his temper caused him, led IU's basketball program admirably and ethically for three decades and provided the school's greatest period of basketball success. For that, he deserves our thanks for the memories and best wishes in retirement.
UPDATE: A word on the midseason timing, which doesn't shock me. I can't find a link, but I recall Knight speaking with some admiration about the decision of former North Carolina coach Dean Smith to resign in September, immediately before the start of the basketball season. If I recall correctly, Knight said that he usually dreaded the recruiting and schmoozing associated with the offseason, so resigning immediately after the season might not be the best option, but that when he was tired of the basketball, he would know it was time. This sort of timing isn't unprecedented for coaching legends: John Thompson resigned on January 8, 1999. Also, Dick Bennett resigned at Wisconsin early in the 2000-01 season, although he ultimately returned to coaching at Washington State.