College coaching legend Knight resigns from Texas Tech

Updated: February 5, 2008, 10:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Bob Knight left when he wanted to this time.

Almost a decade after he was fired by Indiana, the school he led to three national championships, Knight walked away Monday from college basketball in midseason.

The Texas Tech coach, known as much for his brilliance as his fiery temper, abruptly resigned and handed over the team to his son.

"He's ready," successor and son Pat Knight said during his weekly radio show. "He's tired."

It was a stunning midseason move by the winningest men's coach in major college basketball, who gave no hint a change was coming. Pat Knight, a Red Raiders assistant, was appointed his father's successor in 2005.

"There's a transition that's going to take place here from me to Pat and I've dwelt on this all year long ... how it would be best for him and for the team and for what we can do in the long run to make this the best thing for Texas Tech," Knight told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, which first reported the resignation.

Knight told the newspaper that health concerns did not prompt his decision, but he jokingly added, "I feel better today than I did on Saturday."

On Tuesday morning, Bob Knight also told Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman on radio station WCCO-AM that it was just time to go. The remaining 10 games would also give his son and successor, Pat Knight, a chance to work with many of the returning players.

"It really wasn't a very tough one, Sid," he said. "And so with that in mind, I just thought it was time for me to step down here and let him take over this coaching job here."

Bob Knight also said he's ready to quit battling with the officials.

"Well, I won't have to see any more bad calls, that'll be one thing," he said. "I mean, we had some horrendous officiating in games this year. And I think that really, to me, has never been a part of the game, but this year it just seemed to bother me more than at any other time."

Knight left during his 42nd year as a head coach with more wins than any Division I men's coach and only two losing seasons. Pat Knight inherited a team that is struggling at 12-8.

"This is my team, that's what he told me. He's done," Pat Knight said on his radio show. "He's got a lot of life left to enjoy."

The 67-year-old Knight informed Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers of his decision in a meeting around noon Monday, Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told The Associated Press. Knight then called Hance and told him.

Milestone Man

Bobby Knight's first collegiate coaching win came when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. His 900th came over 30 years later. Here's a look at his milestones:

Victory
Date
Result
100Feb. 27, 1971Army 64,
Navy 50
200Dec. 19, 1975Indiana 93,
Georgia 56
300Feb. 7, 1980Indiana 83,
Northwestern 69
400Dec. 8, 1984Indiana 81,
Kentucky 68
500Jan. 14, 1989Indiana 92,
Northwestern 76
600Jan. 6, 1993Indiana 75,
Iowa 67
700March 5, 1997Indiana 70,
Wisconsin 66
800Feb. 5, 2004Texas Tech 75,
Nebraska 49
880*Jan. 1, 2007Texas Tech 70,
New Mexico 68
900Jan. 16, 2008Texas Tech 68,
Texas A&M 53
* -- Became winningest men's coach in NCAA Division I history

"I think Bob is through with coaching. I think he got to the point where it wasn't fun for him," Hance said. "He thought about it Sunday all day and talked to his wife and decided 'This is something I want to do.'"

Myers said Knight told the team before practice Monday.

The Red Raiders beat Oklahoma State 67-60 on Saturday, giving Knight his 902nd victory. He earned his 900th last month against Texas A&M.

The Red Raiders next play Wednesday night at Baylor.

Knight's resignation will not cost the Red Raiders one of their top recruits. Corbin Ray, a 6-foot-8 forward from Katy, Texas, told KRIV-TV in Houston on Monday night that he would still attend Texas Tech.

"Pat was the one recruiting me," Corbin said, according to the station. "I originally committed to him first. I was just hoping to get a year or two with Coach Bob Knight. I respect his decision and wish him the best."

"I guess you can never be surprised at some of the things Bob does," former UCLA coach John Wooden told the AP. "I don't think there's ever been a better teacher of the game of basketball than Bob. I don't always approve of his methods, but his players for the most part are very loyal to him. I would say that no player that ever played for him would not say he did not come out a stronger person."

Knight broke in at Army in 1965, but made his mark in 29 years at Indiana.

He's a complex package, someone who can hit a policeman, throw a chair across the court or be accused of wrapping his hands around a player's neck, yet has never been in trouble for breaking NCAA rules, always has a high graduation rate and gave his salary back a few years ago because he didn't think he'd earned it.

In September, Knight signed a three-year contract extension that ran through the 2011-12 season.

"I didn't know, I've never really known when I was going to step down from this job. As I thought about it, my first thought was at the end of this season," Knight told the Lubbock paper. "My thinking was .. the best thing for the long run for this team would be for Pat and his staff to coach these remaining 10 games."

NCAA president Myles Brand, the former Indiana University president who fired Knight, declined to comment on the resignation, spokesman Erik Christianson said.

By The Numbers

Most known for having more wins than any coach in Division I men's basketball, Bobby Knight hit some other marks along the way. Here's a look at some of Knight's other career numbers:

• 1,273 Career Games
• 29 20-Win Seasons
• 4 30-Win Seasons
• 1 Perfect Season
• 28 NCAA Tournaments
• 3 National Championships
• 1 NIT Championship
• 1 Olympic Gold Medal
• 70-34 Postseason Record
• 15 NBA First-Round Draft Selections
• 36 Players In The NBA

Knight arrived at Texas Tech in March 2001, six months after being fired by Indiana for what school officials there called a "pattern of unacceptable behavior."

The most recent off-the-court action by Knight to draw headlines came last November, when two people accused the coach or his hunting buddy of hitting them with birdshot. Neither person was injured or required medical treatment, and no criminal charges were filed against Knight.

In Knight's first six years at Tech, he led the Red Raiders to five 20-win seasons, a first at the school.

Knight passed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith as the winningest Division I coach Jan. 1, 2007, getting career win No. 880. To celebrate the milestone Knight chose "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, a mantra for how he navigated his personal and professional worlds.

Back then, Knight explained why "My Way" was so fitting.

"I've simply tried to do what I think is best," Knight said. "Regrets? Sure. Just like the song. I have regrets. I wish I could have done things better at times. I wish I would have had a better answer, a better way, at times. But just like he said, I did it my way and when I look back on it, I don't think my way was all that bad."

What he did and how he did it made Knight a legend. However, the influence and discipline he brought to coaching made him special.

"Outside of my immediate family, no single person has had a greater impact on my life than Coach Knight," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Knight at Army. "I have the ultimate respect for him as a coach and a mentor, but even more so as a dear friend. For more than 40 years, the life lessons I have learned from Coach are immeasurable. Simply put, I love him."

Knight got his 100th victory at Army, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 from 1971-2000. He won national titles there in 1976, '81 and '87.

"I am very fortunate and blessed to have played for him. He made me a better man and for that I am grateful," former Indiana star and current New Mexico coach Steve Alford said.

Knight's first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no team has accomplished since. In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles.

When he began his coaching career at Army, he was 24, the youngest-ever Division I coach. Knight won 20 or more games in 29 seasons.

"Today was the most relaxed and relieved I've seen him in a long time," Pat Knight said during his show. "He thought about doing it a year ago but he didn't want people to think he was just staying for the record. So he kind of pushed himself to go one more year."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.