INDIANAPOLIS – Bob Knight must have felt at home at Marian University on Saturday morning.
The sign on a building across the street from the football stadium read I Am A Knight, and inside the stadium, one section was dubbed Knight Club. The schools nickname is the Knights, and its a comfortable setting for the retired coach for other reasons: New athletic director Steve Downing is one of Knights former players and a longtime friend.
Maybe someday an event like this will take place in Bloomington rather than Indianapolis.
Knights latest Hoosier State stop was a two-day reunion with ex-players about 75 miles north of Indiana University. Knight spoke after receiving an award Friday night, then sat inside a tent Saturday morning with former player Landon Turner, where the two signed autographs for roughly three hours to help raise money for Marians athletic department. Everyone else was stationed at folding tables on the football field and spent their free time mingling, retelling stories and answering the one question Indiana fans have been asking for more than a decade: What do the Hoosiers have to do to get Knight back to Bloomington?
I hope someday he (Knight) will be honored at Indiana. That needs to happen. Somebody needs to make that happen, said Scott May, a starter on Knights 1976 unbeaten championship team and an outspoken critic of Knights firing.
I think they should name Assembly Hall after him, the Bob Knight Center, May added.
Downing and many of the players agree with that sort of honor.
But nobody can say whether even that would be enough.
Knight did not take questions this weekend. Instead, he spoke Friday night about the importance of athletes earning their degrees and canceled a scheduled speech to the fans Saturday because he wasnt feeling well on an unseasonably warm day in Indianapolis.
The split between the school that made Knight a household name in college basketball and the man who broke Dean Smiths career record for victories after landing at Texas Tech began Sept. 10, 2000. The late Myles Brand fired Knight after an Indiana freshman accused the coach of grabbing him by the arm. It was the final transgression on a long list, which included his most infamous incident – throwing a chair during a Purdue game.
School officials have made attempts recently to mend fences with the man who brought the Hoosiers three national titles and won a school-record 661 games.
Current Indiana coach Tom Crean has reached out to Knights former players, too, setting up get-togethers with players on the current roster. Some former players – such as Damon Bailey and Brian Evans – have attended games at Assembly Hall. Crean also hired Indianas career scoring leader, Calbert Cheaney, as his director of basketball operations last summer.
Many fans and some of Knights players would like to see the rift end.
I do wish this could go on in Bloomington. I think its time, said Bobby Wilkerson, who also played on the 1975-76 championship team.
Knight will turn 72 in October, and even pleas from May and Mike Woodson to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2009 couldnt convince him to come back.