Coach Knight tells Mobile to save sports despite budget cuts

Wednesday, April 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ Former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, known for his controversial coaching style, told Mobile residents they need to do whatever it takes to save high school athletics from statewide budget cuts.

``Athletics gives young people a chance to see what it is like to win in life and gives them a chance to see what it is like to lose in life,'' said Knight, who was recently hired to coach Texas Tech University. ``Nothing this club could do or the people in this room could do is more important than to make certain your public schools have athletics.''

Knight was speaking to the Mobile Touchdown Club on Tuesday night. His connection to Mobile is South Alabama basketball coach Bob Weltlich, who used to be one of Knight's assistants.

High school sports have been threatened in Mobile by statewide education budget cuts, known as proration. The money shortfall could cause a cancellation of all sports and extracurricular activities unless the city approves a tax referendum designed to generate more money.

``Just do everything that has to be done to help these young people,'' Knight said.

Knight was fired from Indiana in September for repeated misconduct. He led Indiana to three national titles in 29 years.

Knight didn't apologize for the incident that led to his firing. A student had yelled, ``Hey, Knight, what's up?'' Knight deemed this disrespectful, grabbed the student's arm and lectured him.

``Apparently, the president at Indiana did not agree with me, but if I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing,'' Knight said.

Knight went turkey hunting and fishing before addressing the overflow audience at the Country Club of Mobile.

He also told members of the Touchdown Club to support South Alabama basketball and quit expecting kids to like their parents.