Bob Knight, legendary college basketball coach, dies at 83

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Bob Knight, the man most synonymous with Indiana basketball and a 1991 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, died on Wednesday. He was 83.

Knight’s family made the announcement on social media on Wednesday night, saying he was surrounded by family members at his home in Bloomington, Indiana.

Knight, who ranks sixth all-time in the sport’s history with 902 victories, is best known for his time as the head coach of the Hoosiers, who he led to national championships in 1976, 1981 and 1987, in addition to two other national semifinal appearances in 1973 and 1992. He became one of college basketball’s most iconic figures during his 29 years at Indiana, as the men’s basketball program entered a golden era of success with a record of 662-239 that included 22 seasons of 20 or more victories and 11 Big Ten regular-season championships.

The three-time Associated Press and eight-time Big Ten Coach of the Year was a graduate of Ohio State University, where he was part of the 1960 national championship team alongside John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas. 

After a year as a junior varsity coach at Cuyahoga Falls High School in Ohio, Knight enlisted in the United States Army in 1963 and accepted an assistant coaching role with the Black Knights basketball program. Two years later, at the age of 24, Knight was hired as the head coach in West Point. He won 102 games over six seasons at Army, where he coached Mike Krzyzewski, who later served as his assistant for a year at Indiana and would become head coach at Army, and then, Duke. 

Following his six years at Army, Knight took over in Bloomington for Jerry Oliver in 1971.

Despite nearly three decades of dominance and his rise to becoming one of college basketball’s coaching titans, that stature was not enough for Knight to avoid his eventual downfall at Indiana. Nicknamed “The General,” his temper was well-known. He once hit a police officer in Puerto Rico, threw a chair across the court and was accused of wrapping his hands around a player’s neck.

He was fired by Indiana in 2000 for what Indiana president Myles Brand called “a pattern of unacceptable behavior.” 

While his critics fumed relentlessly about his conduct, his defenders were legion. There was this side of Knight as well: He took pride in his players’ high graduation rates, and during a rule-breaking era he was never accused of a major NCAA violation.

After his firing by Indiana, his time away from the sidelines lasted all of six months. On March 23, 2001, Texas Tech hired Knight. He coached in Lubbock for seven seasons, leading the Red Raiders to four NCAA Tournaments and a Sweet 16 in 2005. When Knight led Texas Tech to the Big Dance in 2007, it gave him the most NCAA Tournament appearances at the time with 28. 

In February 2008, Knight announced his retirement and named his son, Pat, the head coach at Texas Tech. 

He was hired by ESPN as a college basketball analyst, serving in that role until 2015. 

On Feb. 8, 2020, Knight returned to Assembly Hall for the first time in 20 years, joined by 49 of his former players as the Hoosiers’ 1980 Big Ten championship team was honored in a ceremony. 

The comeback provided a long-awaited sense of closure for Knight and the Indiana fan base. 

A two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball as a coach in the 1979 Pan American Games and the 1984 Olympics, Knight is in a class of his own in one category. He’s the only coach in basketball history to win an NCAA title, an NIT championship, an Olympic Gold medal and a Pan Am Games medal.

He joined Dean Smith and Joe B. Hall as the only people to play on and coach teams that won an NCAA basketball championship. 

Knight is survived by his wife, Karen Vieth Edgar, and his two sons, Tim and Pat.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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