October 19, 2011
Whereas Bob Knight had a near-spotless history of avoiding running afoul of NCAA rules during his coaching career, the legendary former Indiana and Texas Tech coach's track record in retirement may now have its first minor blemish.
Two Indianapolis-area recruits who have committed to play for Pat Knight at Lamar University spent five minutes apiece on the phone with Bob Knight earlier this month, according to the Indianapolis Star. Northwest High's Donnell Minton told the Star the elder Knight told him "he thought I'd be a good fit for the program and said he hoped he'd see me at Lamar," which is likely a violation of NCAA rules prohibiting anyone besides basketball staff members from recruiting.
The purpose of the rule is to prevent schools from using celebrities or boosters to help land prospective recruits, but the penalty for a first-time offense would likely be negligible at most. The NCAA didn't even bother to penalize Iowa for bringing two basketball recruits to meet Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore during a football game last year, seemingly a more egregious violation than this one.
In the wake of the Star publishing its story, Pat Knight has defended himself, telling the Beaumont Enterprise he didn't realize having his father talk to recruits was against the rules and that the conversations were just "a quick hello on the phone."
"He just was excited we were recruiting Indiana again and wanted to say hello to them and that was it," Pat Knight said.
"At least I'm not paying them. The NCAA should look into guys that are paying players and not worry about guys that are doing it the right way. ... I think it's [expletive], honestly. The guy is my dad. If he wants to say hello to a recruit, he can. If we get reprimanded, fine. They need to check into guys that are outright cheating instead of nickle-dime stuff like that."
Pat Knight's candor is great and his message is spot-on as well. At a time when boosters and agents are paying top recruits and realignment has put some of the greatest rivalries in college athletics in jeopardy, the NCAA should give Lamar its slap on the wrist if it must and then move on to issues of greater significance.