Coach Robert Montgomery Knight passed peacefully in Bloomington Indiana at the age of 83 Wednesday Evening. The Legendary College Basketball Coach is the fifth winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 history with 902 wins and three national championships.
Knight won National Championships in 1976, 1981, and 1987 at Indiana University. The 1975-1976 season was the last undefeated season in Division 1 Men’s College Basketball History when the Hoosiers went 32-0. Knight was 902-371, amassing a 702-winning percentage, with stops at Army, Indiana, and Texas Tech. His time in Indiana is when his legend would be solidified.
Knight was born on October 25, 1940, in Orville, Ohio. He began playing organized basketball at Orville High School as a star player and was recruited to play under legendary coach Fred Taylor at The Ohio State University. Knight was a reserve on the 1960 National Championship team that featured future Hall of Fame Players Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek. The Buckeyes lost to the University of Cincinnati in the 1961 and 1962 National Championship Games. Knight Graduated with a degree in history and Government in 1962.
Knight was an assistant coach at Cuyahoga Falls HS in Ohio from 1962-63. Knight went to the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY also known as Army where he was an assistant coach from 1963-65 before taking over as head coach from 1965-1971. In Six seasons at West Point he was 102-50 with four postseason NIT Appearances. He mentored a young man named Mike Krzyzewski who coached under Knight for one season at Indiana in 1974-75 after graduation from Army in 1969. Krzyzewski, who coached at Army from 1975-1980 and Duke from 1980-2022 won 1,202 games and 5 National Championships at Duke.
Knight became the Head Coach at Indiana University in 1971 and was 662-229 in Bloomington with 3 NCAA Titles, 5 Final Fours, 11 Big Ten Championships, 24 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 3 NIT Appearances including the 1979 Championship win over Purdue. Knight led the Hoosiers to the 1974 CAA Tournament title and only missed the post season one time as the Hoosiers Head Coach in 1976-77 and never had a losing season in Bloomington. Knight was let go on September 10, 2000, after violating a zero-tolerance policy that was enforced by then University President Myles Brand.
After sitting out the 2000-2001 season Knight returned to the sidelines as the Head Coach of Texas Tech University from 2001-2008. Knight was 132-82 at Texas Tech as he took the Red Raiders to Four NCAA Tournament Appearances and Third Place finish in NIT in 2003. Knight stepped down on February 4, 2008, and was 12-8 handing over the reins to his son Pat who played for him at IU from 1991-95. Knight only had two losing seasons in all his years of coaching. He was 11-13 in 1970-71 and 15-17 in 2006.
Knight was known for his temper and controversial comments throughout the years. He also raised a lot of money for the Indiana University Library over the years. He was Inducted in the Nasmith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Knight graduated 98 percent of his players that played four years and only four of them did not graduate. He returned to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to be honored on February 8, 2020, against Purdue. It was the first time he was in the building since he was let go from Indiana University. Make no mistake about it that Bobby Knight will always be Indiana University Basketball.
Here is what others had to offer about Coach Knight’s passing . . .
“As we collectively mourn the passing of Coach Knight, we also celebrate a man who will always be an integral part of Indiana University’s rich and vibrant story. With unmatched accomplishment, Coach Knight’s brilliance ensures he will forever rest among the giants of college basketball.”Pamela Whitten, Indiana University President
“This is a tremendous loss to not only our IU Basketball Family, but the sport,” said IU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Dolson. “His impact on the game is obvious when looking at his three NCAA and 11 Big Ten Championships and the 902 games that he won throughout a legendary 42-year head coaching career. As great as that record of success is, his impact is even more profound when looking at the enormous successes that his former players, coaches, and managers have enjoyed – both in the sport and outside of it – following their time working alongside Coach Knight and learning from him. His influence will continue to be felt through them for generations to come. I want to extend my deepest condolences to Karen, Tim, Pat, and the entire Knight family. The world of basketball lost a great one today. There won’t be another one like him.”Scott Dolson, IU Vice President, and Director of Athletics
“It is a profoundly sad day for all of us who loved Coach Knight. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Karen, his family, and to all those who loved him. I am so blessed that he saw something in me as a basketball player. He influenced my life in ways I could never repay. As he did with all his players, he always challenged me to get the most out of myself as a player and more importantly, as a person. His record as a basketball coach speaks for itself. He will be remembered as one of the greatest ever and his impact on the game of basketball is etched in stone. His teams were always prepared and with him on the sideline, you always believed that he put you in the best position to win. I will always cherish the time we spent together after I played for him. His fierce loyalty to his former players never wavered. I am grateful that he was able to come to our practices after I came back. His presence meant so much to me, our staff, and our players.”Coach Mike Woodson, Indiana Men’s Basketball Coach and former IU All-American
“First and foremost, I just want to send our condolences and our prayers to Karen and his family, and to the Indiana family as we go through losing a legend . . . it’s just a sad day here in Bloomington for all of us. He’s what we call the GOAT. He did it in a way that no one else has done it . . . I don’t think that we’ve seen another person or coach like him since he’s been out of the game.”Teri Moren, Indiana University Women’s Basketball Head Coach