Knight May Be Knighted as Texas Tech Coach

Friday, March 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Indiana coach Bobby Knight will be offered the Texas Tech men's basketball coaching job if both sides agree it's a good fit during a campus visit in the next week, a source close to discussions between Knight and the school said Thursday.

Knight would succeed James Dickey, whose last game at Texas Tech appears to have been Thursday's 71-59 first-round loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.

Dickey, whose team finished a fourth straight losing season with a record of 9-19, will be dismissed as coach of the Red Raiders after 10 seasons at a Friday afternoon news conference in Lubbock, the source said.

Dickey, who has three years remaining on his contract, will be bought out for about $1 million, according to the source. His assistant coaches also will have their contracts bought out, the source said.

Tech president David Schmidly and athletic director Gerald Myers, a longtime friend of Knight's, met with Knight earlier this week in Naples, Fla. Schmidly and Myers attended Thursday's game in Kansas City but offered no comments about their basketball coaching situation.

Knight, who has been spending time with the St. Louis Cardinals at spring training, did not speak with reporters Thursday. But Florida Marlins manager John Boles told The Associated Press, "I showed him around the place a little bit and asked him how he was enjoying the year off, and he said he wasn't. He said he'll be someplace. He'll coach next year."

Knight, 60, is expected to make a visit to the Lubbock campus some time in the next week, when he will meet with top officials at the university, the source said. The school won't announce a hiring until the Tech coaching job has been posted for 10 days, in accordance with state law, the source said.

The source said Knight would be an attractive candidate for Tech for three primary reasons: a solid record of graduating players; a history of NCAA compliance; and his credentials as a world-class coach.

There would be no provision in a contract with Knight that would attempt to enforce a behavioral conduct code, the source said. Knight was fired at Indiana last year after grabbing a student and violating a "zero-tolerance" policy the university had established.

Knight, who has 764 career victories as a college coach, trails Dean Smith, the NCAA's all-time victory leader with 879.

Texas Tech women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp, whose team lost to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament Thursday, said rumors surfaced that she would resign if Knight were hired.

"That's absolutely not true," Sharp said.

According to Dickey, Myers patted him on the shoulder and said, "Tough game," in a seconds-only meeting after the Oklahoma State contest. Dickey said the two have had a strained relationship since Tuesday, when Dickey said he confronted Myers about whether there was an ongoing search.

Tech players said Dickey didn't address his job situation before or after the Red Raiders' loss to Oklahoma State. But they said getting caught up in the speculation about Dickey being dismissed was unavoidable, according to Tech guard Jamal Brown of Skyline.

"I was shocked, just the way it's happened," Brown said. "In your hotel room on ESPN before going to play and you here all this. It hurts, and it's a disrespect for coach [Dickey] for this to come out at a time like this. It's a raw deal."

Knight has become the top candidate for the Tech job in part because of his friendship with Myers. That bond led Indiana to Lubbock to open Tech's $51.7 million United Spirit Arena in November 1999.

Declining attendance at men's basketball games has been one of the biggest issues confronting Dickey, whose team lost 12 of its last 13 games and drew a crowd of roughly 3,000 for its regular-season finale against Texas.

Tech's 9-19 record (including a 3-13 mark in Big 12 play) represents the most losses in a single season in the 10 years Dickey has been coach of the Red Raiders. He is 28-53 in Big 12 games the past five seasons.

The high water mark for Dickey's tenure at Tech came in the 1995-96 season, when the Red Raiders, featuring future NBA players Tony Battie, Darvin Ham and Cory Carr went 30-2. Tech beat North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Allen Iverson and Georgetown in the Sweet 16.

Tech had its basketball scholarship allotment reduced by nine over the past four years because of NCAA violations, which were the result of academic improprieties. Next year, Tech will have a full allotment of 13 scholarships for the first time in five years.

"I would never make excuses, nor would I accept any," Dickey said. "If the chancellor, president and coach Myers decide to go in a different direction, that's their prerogative, and I can accept that."