Bob Knight, whose Hall of Fame career was highlighted by three national titles at Indiana — one an undefeated season not since matched — died Wednesday at 83, according to his family. No cause was given.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share that Coach Bob Knight passed away at his home in Bloomington surrounded by his family,” the Knight family said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as Coach requested a private family gathering, which is being honored. We will continue to celebrate his life and remember him, today and forever as a beloved Husband, Father, Coach, and Friend.
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“In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Coach with a memorial contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association or Marian University.”
Nicknamed “The General,” Knight was known for his fiery temper, which sometimes overshadowed his coaching career and led to several incidents that derailed his long-term stint at Indiana and later at Texas Tech.
Knight broke in at Army at 24, at the time becoming the youngest Division 1 coach in college baskeball. From there, he went on to 29 years at Indiana, including winning a school-record 661 games and reaching the NCAA tournament 24 times in 29 seasons.
Knight’s first NCAA title came in 1976, when Indiana went undefeated — a feat no team has accomplished since.
In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles, the last American amateur team to claim Olympic gold. Knight won 20 or more games in 29 seasons, compiling a career record of 902-371.
Then came trouble.
Knight was forced out at Indiana in 2000 for violating a “zero tolerance” behavior policy by grabbing the arm of a freshman student who he said greeted him by his last name. The incident was the final one in a long series of issues, including Knight’s most notorious throwing of a chair during a Purdue game. Watch that incident here:
There also were accusations of numerous physical confrontations, including choking a player at a 1997 practice.
After being fired by Indiana, he became the basketball coach at Texas Tech six months later in 2001. He led the team to five 20-win seasons in six full years. That record made him the winningest Division I men’s basketball coach at the time; he now ranks sixth.
Knight resigned as Texas Tech’s basketball coach in the middle of the 2008-09 season, his 42nd year as a head coach. He later worked as a college basketball analyst for ESPN for seven seasons.
Robert Montgomery Knight was born on October 25, 1940 in Orrville, Ohio, and was a prep basketball, baseball and football star at Orrville High School. While a player at Ohio State, his teams compiled an overall record of 78-6, including national title in 1960 — Knight was 0-for-1 with one personal foul in a 75-55 win over California in the title game and averaged 3.7 points as a sub that season — and captured Big Ten titles during all three of Knight’s seasons.
After his college career ended, he went into coaching and was an Army assistant when he was elevated to head coach, succeeding Tates Locke. He was 102-50 at Army.
Knight was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
Indiana officials tried to mend fences with Knight but were refused by the coach. He skipped team reunions and declined to attend his induction into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Eventually, he relented. In February 2020, he returned to Assembly Hall for an Indiana-Purdue game to roars of approval.
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