The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
The best index to a person's character is (a) how he treats people who can't do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can't fight back......  ...Abigail Van Buren, Dear Abby (May 16, 1974).
Commentary of the Day - May 18, 2000: Resign Bobby, Resign!
Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight received yet another slap on the wrist for his atrocious, juvenile behavior.  On Monday May 15th, Indiana University president Myles Brand announced that Knight would be suspended for three games and would forfeit $30,000 of his salary for a series of outbursts that had been reported upon widely in the national press.  This follows a lengthy investigation by Indiana University trustees.

Bobby Knight, the "Bad Boy of Bloomington", has a long history of temperamental outbursts both on and off the court.  The present investigation was prompted by reports on CNN/SI that Knight had physically attacked a player during a practice session in 1997.  The trustees were able to verify that this assault took place by examining a videotape of the incident, and through interviews of witnesses.  The trustees also were able to verify Knight's abusive behavior towards Jeannette L. Hartgraves, an administrative assistant to Indiana athletic director Clarence H. Doniger.  In this incident Knight subjected Ms. Hartgraves to a stream of foul language and threw a potted plant against a wall.  In addition, the trustees also determined that Knight engaged in a heated shouting match with Doniger following Indiana's loss to Ohio State on February 19th.  Doniger said that he feared for his physical safety during this confrontation, which was broken up by the intervention of team physician Brad Bomba.

Similar incidents have followed Knight throughout his 29-year coaching career at Indiana.  His use of abusive language towards players, fans, and officials is legendary.  He has been ejected from numerous games and fined tens of thousands of dollars for his outbursts.  On a number of occasions he has expressed publicly his contempt for the educational mission of the university and for its faculty members.

If any other employee at Indiana - or just about any other college or university - had engaged in similar behavior, the Irascible Professor has no doubt that he or she would have been fired long ago.  Knight, however, also has produced a number of winning teams at Indiana; and, because of the corrupt power that big time athletics has at a number of universities in the United States he has been immune from the rules that ordinary folks must obey.

That does not change the fact that Knight is a disgrace to the coaching profession.  In the opinion of the Irascible Professor a coach should be a role model and a leader, a person who teaches character as well as technique to his or her players, and a person who exemplifies the values of respect, sportsmanship, and learning.  Today's players, more than ever, need the steady hand of someone like the "Wizard of Westwood", John Wooden.  Throughout his career Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 national championships, showed respect for his players, for the fans, for the officials, and for the importance of education.  (Wooden, himself, was an English teacher.)  Wooden was giant among his peers.  Knight is a midget who doesn't deserve to be associated with the game.

Bobby Knight's career is now so checkered and stained that there is little he can do to redeem it.  The best that he can do is to resign so that others can repair the damage that he has done to the integrity of the athletic program at Indiana.  Resign now Bobby, resign!  Let others who may not win as many games, but who have decency and character take your place.

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