IU Won't Probe New Claim Vs. Knight


Tuesday, May 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana University will not investigate the most recent accusation against Bob Knight because it is no worse than claims already made against the basketball coach.

``Had it risen above that level or been verifiable, that could be a different story,'' university spokesman Christopher Simon said. ``We certainly have not given coach Knight immunity for any past problems.''

Former Indiana player Chris Lawson said he once saw Knight punch another player in the head during halftime, The Tennessean reported Monday.

The player, believed to be Matt Nover, denied Knight punched him. But Lawson said the punch came in the locker room and was witnessed by the entire team.

The university said Monday it plans to stand by a decision reached last week to allow Knight to remain coach under a ``zero tolerance'' policy. The decision was the result of a seven-week investigation following accusations Knight choked a former player.

Simpson said the most recent accusation lacks verification.

``I don't see where it would be productive for us to go back, based on what we know now, 10 years ago and try to untangle who did what.''

Other players said they never saw Knight punch a player.

``Nothing like that ever happened, that's all I can say,'' said Damon Bailey, who was a freshman in the 1990-91 season.

Pat Graham, Lawson's roommate for two years, called the allegation ``a joke.''

``If Matt Nover was punched in the face, in a locker room at halftime, I will promise you there would have been 11 or 12 other guys on that team on the airplane ride back to Bloomington going, 'My God, what was coach thinking about?''' Graham said. ``Well, that never happened. I mean, we probably still would be talking about it today.''

Lawson, who played for the Hoosiers from 1989-91 before transferring to Vanderbilt, also said Knight threw basketballs at him from close range once during practice, berated his assistant coaches and was verbally abusive to players.

Lawson, a 29-year-old pharmaceutical salesman in Salina, Kan., said he was not contacted during the investigation. He said he didn't come forward because he feared being made a pariah, just as Neil Reed was.

Reed's claims that he was choked by Knight during a 1997 practice prompted the university investigation. As a result, Knight was suspended for three regular-season games and fined $30,000 by the university.

Lawson, who grew up in Bloomington, Ind., did not return a call to The Associated Press on Monday.

Knight is on vacation in Scotland and was unavailable for comment.