Knight: Why is Calipari still coaching?
Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in NCAA basketball and cited
Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.
During a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on Thursday, Knight said he doesn't understand why Calipari is still coaching.
"We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching," he said. "You see we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that."
Massachusetts and Memphis were both sanctioned by the NCAA for violations committed during Calipari's tenure.
Calipari said Knight's comments surprised him.
"I get up to go to mass this morning and there's like 100 text messages and I'm like what in the world happened?" Calipari said Friday. "And I get word and what I can tell you is I'm a big fan, respect him as a basketball coach, always have."
"I don't agree with what he says but it doesn't change how I feel about him," Calipari said.
Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson said he was surprised by Knight's comments but that Knight's words seem to be part of the national perception of his coach.
"People hear stuff about him and they kind of guess what he's like, but playing for him and actually being around him, he's a great guy," Harrellson said. "He's fair to everybody."
Knight also criticized a proposed NCAA tournament expansion to 96 teams, saying nobody should get a bye in the NCAA tournament.
He urged the NCAA to require tournament teams to submit eligibility reports, an effort to assure that players who are competing in postseason games have been attending classes and earning acceptable grades.
Knight, who won a record 902 games as coach of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, did not take questions from reporters.
Attendees paid $50 to hear Knight speak for more than 90 minutes, mostly recounting tales from his coaching days and lessons he passed along to players.
The speech had some poignant moments, too.
"You know, I've always been a Kenny Rogers fan and I always liked that song where he says 'You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run,"' Knight said. "I've tried to follow that philosophy, and I should have run at Indiana when the trustees and the administration had gotten too far apart and that's probably as much my fault as it was theirs."
Knight, who wore a green sweater instead of his trademark red one, said he had been advised by three different people early in his career that he was too strong-willed to stay at Indiana forever. Instead of heeding that advice, though, Knight said he couldn't find a better basketball environment and stayed until Myles Brand fired him in September 2000.
It's as close as Knight has gotten to admitting he may have made a mistake in Bloomington.
"I'll always take great pleasure in having been part of the heritage of basketball in Indiana," he said.
It was Knight's his first public appearance in Indiana since skipping his own induction into the school's hall of fame last month.
Before the induction, new athletic director Fred Glass made a personal plea to reunite Knight and the university, to no avail. Knight said then that he didn't want to distract from the induction of others into the Hall of Fame.