Bob Knight: Integrity VS. Hypocrisy

Tom PhelpsContributor IAugust 19, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Bob Knight former head coach, looks on as an ESPN commentator during the CBE Classic games on November 24, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images


“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching,” he said. “You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”(Bob Knight) (Quote from Rivals)

This was a comment that Bob Knight made last December, concerning Kentucky Coach John Calipari. This quote coming from Bob Knight grants a better description of the word “hypocrisy”, than Merriam Webster. Bob Knight is no stranger to controversy. His numerous acts of anger have grown into legend. But what I cannot understand is why Bob Knight, is even allowed to be associated with NCAA Basketball?

My required health course in college was taught by a former player of Bob Knight. One day I stumbled into class early and the professor was already there. Due to previous encounters, I knew he played for IU and under Coach Knight. So I asked him about the experience. The answer I was given, confirmed the attitude Knight, held with his players. This particular professor told me about the constant verbal abuse. But when I pressed the issue a bit further, the professor admitted that Bob Knight would grab players in an over aggressively way.  Of course his story is not without precedent; in 1997 Knight, chocked a player at a practice. He would deny this claim but after video evidence surfaced, the truth was known.

Violence was only a part of the equation. Bob Knight, the man who speaks of integrity developed a reputation for throwing chairs during a basketball game, and verbally abusing referees and the media. Finally Bob Knight was fired by the University of Indiana, for allegedly grabbing an IU student by the arm and telling him to give proper respect. All the student done was greeted Bob Knight with a “what is up” phrase (allegedly). Apparently Knight felt it was his responsibility to provide the students of the University of Indiana with a course in proper etiquette (allegedly).  

Bob Knight had success as a college basketball coach, but his behavior was unacceptable. However, he still finds employment at ESPN. A controversial hire, which draws praise from some and outrage by others. But how does he continue to garner employment in the field? Bob Knight held a position of a basketball coach, a field that overlaps with education. Could you imagine if a teacher had this sort of a past, being able to work for the department of education. The nation would be outraged. However, Bob Knight is able to cover the profession he once worked, because he is considered an expert. Perhaps the most disgusting comments made by Knight happened with an interview with Connie Chung during a NBC interview. He was asked about his stress management, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it," he replied. (Quote from ESPN Article) Knight tried to build a defense on how he meant if something is out of your control. But this was more typical behavior displayed by Knight. Bob Knight’s, lists of outburst are counter to the word integrity.  In 1979 Knight was convicted of assault on a Police Officer. If Knight would strike a law enforcement officer, then what is restraining him from striking his own players, or anyone else for that matter?


(Integrity- moral uprightness; honesty (Oxford American Dictionary))

Above is a definition of integrity, a substance that Bob Knight, claims to be lacking from NCAA basketball today.  If Bob Knight would have been offered the job at UK, I highly expect he would have accepted, but Bob Knight knows given his history he has no chance to coach at a high level school again. But also a brief examination of his past shows Bob Knight did little to help the spread of integrity in basketball. Therefore I believe a better definition he should give to himself is hypocrisy.

(Hypocrisy- the assumption or postulation of moral standards to which ones own moral behavior does not conform. (Oxford American Dictionary))






Oxford American Dictionary, New York, Oxford University Press 2003 Hardcover Dictionary