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THE LAST WORD: Knight return to Bloomington would be fitting

Kerry Hubartt

The storied career of former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight had a not-so-happy ending when he was fired by IU President Myles Brand in 2000.

His long absence from Bloomington and repeated scorning of the university since have been sad and disappointing. But is the self-imposed banishment about to end? Reports say property transfer records filed recently in the Monroe County Assessor’s Office show a house in the Shadow Creek neighborhood in Bloomington was sold to Robert M. and Karen Knight on July 2.

Perhaps “The General” is returning to the site of his Hall of Fame achievements. Knight led the Hoosiers to three national championships, 11 Big Ten championships and 661 total victories. He was the winningest coach in IU history.

His fiery temper got him in trouble throughout his 29 years in Bloomington. He was fired after violating a zero-tolerance policy put upon him in May 2000 after he grabbed an IU student’s arm. The policy was implemented after a video surfaced of him grabbing the neck of player Neil Reid in a practice.

Knight bid farewell to IU on Sept. 13 in Dunn Meadow in front of 6,000 fans. He then became Texas Tech’s head coach before retiring in 2008. He and his wife have been living in Lubbock, Texas.

Knight’s firing and subsequent scorning of IU was not the way Hoosier fans wanted things to end. And the things he has said did not endear him to those who respected him. As recently as March 10, 2017, on the syndicated Dan Patrick Show, Knight coldly declared of his former IU bosses, “I hope they’re all dead.” When Patrick said, “I know some of them are,” referring to Brand, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 and another ex-IU official, Christopher Simpson, who also died, Knight said, “I hope the rest of them go.”

The IU leadership has all changed since Knight left. Current Athletic Director Fred Glass has tried many times to get Knight to return. He wouldn’t.

“I think that I’ve always really enjoyed the fans,” Knight told Patrick. “I always will. On my dying day, I’ll think about how great the fans at Indiana were. As far as the hierarchy at Indiana University at that time, I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for those people.”

So why would he suddenly return to Bloomington to live?

A year after his embittered comments on the Dan Patrick Show, Knight spoke at Bloomington High School South. This spring, he returned to Bloomington to watch IU’s baseball team play Penn State, sitting in the press box at Bart Kaufman Field with his good friend, former Herald-Times sports editor Bob Hammel.

Glass said in April that Knight had expressed interest in attending the game, so they made arrangements for his visit. “My understanding is that Coach Knight was in town for other reasons,” Glass said in a text message to an H-T reporter.

Perhaps to buy a house? The 4,800-square-foot house described in the property records showing the Knights as buyers has five bedrooms and four bathrooms and sold for $572,500.

In February, IU sports radio announcer Don Fischer said Knight’s health “has declined.” News reports say that during a speaking engagement at Center Grove High School in April, the 78-year-old former coach struggled with lapses in memory. The media reported, however, that he said, “the best days of my life were when I was at IU.”

Whatever you may think of the aging coach, to me it would be a fitting final gesture of love and respect for “The General” to return home to Bloomington.

— Kerry Hubartt is former News-Sentinel editor

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