Let's get this out right from the jump: Bob Knight is not anyone I would want lecturing my kids on the value of personal discipline and/or treating even the least powerful among us with dignity and respect.
He can, however, bash college athletics for a lack of integrity all day. With certain reservations.
And so I applaud what he said last night at a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Basically he said college athletics lacked integrity, and cited as an example Kentucky coach John Calipari, wondering aloud why a guy who'd gotten his previous two programs tossed in the NCAA hoosegow could still be allowed to coach.
It's a very good question. And Knight's as right a guy as any to ask it.
I say "as right a guy as any," because his record for graduating players and running a clean program is impeccable. On the other hand, he also fully bought into the corporatization of college athletics that enables coaches like Calipari to continue to thrive.
Knight never had any qualms about that dubious aspect; his last few seasons at Texas Tech, he was so logo'ed up he looked like Jimmie Johnson. So in a way he was as culpable as anyone else for the environment he so rightly decries.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he recognized that, and stepping away from coaching was his reaction to it. Certainly he's astute enough to recognize that college athletics at the Division I level are now wholly a profit-first, everything-else-second enterprise for the schools involved.
Which is how Calipari could land at Kentucky despite his record. Which is how Florida football coach Urban Meyer continues to be canonized by virtually everyone despite the fact he's had 25 players arrested in his five years in Gainesville.
Two national titles trump all of that, because they make him a valuable corporate asset for the university. And Calipari's at Kentucky because the poobahs there recognized he would be a similarly valuable investment.
Poor Bob. Doesn't he realize how passe it is these days?