(WXIN/WTTV) — Legendary former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bob Knight has died at the age of 83, his family announced Wednesday on his website.
Knight’s family confirmed his passing Wednesday night in a brief post on his official website:
“It is with heavy hearts that we share that Coach Bob Knight passed away at his home in Bloomington surrounded by his family,” the post read. “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.”
“Donations to any charity in his name are also appreciated,” the family ended their post.
Knight was hospitalized in April with an illness, his family said at the time. No additional details were shared.
Robert Montgomery Knight arrived in Bloomington in 1971 after serving as the head coach at Army from 1965 to 1971. The IU basketball program was already rich in tradition with two national titles, but the Hoosiers had fallen from that prior glory.
It did not take Knight long, though, to bring them back.
1976 saw the Cream and Crimson produce the best team in the history of March Madness, with Indiana finishing the season undefeated with a win over Michigan and giving Knight his first of three national championships.
Knight’s accomplishments on the court were perhaps only matched by his personality off of it.
“In my entire adult life, I’ve never used the expression game face,” Knight said. “I have no g*dd**n idea what it means or what you’re supposed to. I mean sh*t, how do I know what you look like?”
The general with the fire of a drill sergeant, Knight often boiled over without much care of consequences. Throwing a chair is minor compared to accusations of physical and verbal abuse made by former player Neil Reed, who died of a heart attack in 2012.
The accusations, which were later confirmed on video, were enough for IU to suspend Knight, fine him and adopt a zero-tolerance policy. The policy would soon be tested and violated.
Knight was eventually fired in September 2000 after he allegedly grabbed a student by the arm in a hallway, which violated the zero-tolerance policy.
“An early morning telephone conversation with Coach Knight today, I gave him the option of resigning as head basketball coach,” said former IU President Myles Brand on Sept. 10, 2000. “He declined, and I notified him he was being removed as basketball coach effective immediately.”
Knight’s firing drove a stake between Indiana University and its once beloved coach.
The bitterness, and enmity, would last for decades.
“I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for those people. I have no interest in ever going back to that university,” Knight said at the time. “I hope they’re all dead.”
However, Knight was still quick to find work after leaving IU in the fall of 2000 as Texas Tech made him men’s basketball coach in the spring of 2001. He quickly won over a new fan base.
Knight’s relationship with the media remained testy.
“I try to help you young guys in this profession you’ve chosen, which is one or two steps above prostitution,” Knight once said to a group of reporters.
Yet, he was still quick to join broadcasting teams after his time at Texas Tech in 2008. Leaving ESPN in 2015, Knight faded from the public eye.
While his best teams and players frequently visited IU’s Assembly Hall over the years, Knight did not.
That is, until February of 2020 when Knight made a reunion 20 years in the making a reality. Knight attended the Hoosiers’ game against Purdue, joined by dozens of his former players and former Purdue coach Gene Keady.
Knight has been in poor health for several years but still attended some Hoosiers practices this season, which were led by current coach and former Knight pupil Mike Woodson.
Knight was added to the Basketball of Fame in 1991 to honor his longstanding coaching career.
In total, Knight won three national championships, 11 Big Ten titles and 662 games at Indiana. His legacy will be complex, but not complicated.
Knight departs as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, one of the most beloved coaches of all time and one of the fiercest coaches of all time.