Why The Tragic Death Of Myles Brand Could Be An Omen For Hoosier Nation

Neal MaloneCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2009

17 Mar 2000: Head Coach Bobby Knight of the Indiana Hoosiers looks somber as he watches the action from the bench during round one of the NCAA Tournament Game against the Pepperdine Wave at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Wave defeated the Hoosiers 77-57. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

After a tough battle with pancreatic cancer, former NCAA president Myles Brand died today at the age of 67.  Brand's career was impressive, featuring many dignified positions in athletic and academic administration.  Through these experiences, he was able to bring integrity and respect to the forefront, both on the field and in the classroom.  

Prior to his time as president of the NCAA, Brand served as Indiana University's 16th president from 1994-2002 and held the same position at the University of Oregon from 1989-1994.  Earlier in his career, he spent time as an academic administrator at The Ohio State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Brand was a traditionalist, always putting academics first and making sure schools did things the "right way."  He was a pioneer in the marketability of academic programs and was always looking for ways to improve the well-being of student athletes.  

His ideals and his character never wavered, sometimes creating a reputation of being overly stern and stubborn.  Brand made no exceptions to rules, regulations, or policies, even if the situation involved the most robust of personalities.  It is for this philosophy that Myles Brand will be remembered both positively...and negatively.

Exhibit A: Robert Montgomery Knight...you may know him as Bobby...The General.

Whether those close to Brand like it or not, he will forever go down in history as the man who fired Bobby Knight as Indiana University's head basketball coach.  Brand ultimately started what is now a stalemate between Knight and Indiana's athletic department.  

It was May 2000 when Brand made the tough decision to end Bob Knight's tenure as IU's basketball coach when a tape surfaced on TV showing Knight allegedly choking one of his players, the now infamous Neil Reed.  

The aftermath had Brand and his wife being escorted to a safe house, away from the thousands of angry protesters outside his home in Bloomington, Indiana.  His decision devastated Hoosier Nation, leaving the program's history in the dust and giving the helm to young Mike Davis.  

Brand would leave Indiana University two years later, much to the enjoyment of the Hoosier faithful.  Bob Knight's firing made people forget Brand's marketing and academic-related achievements at the university.  Whether those sentiments were right or wrong, HE was the villain.

The news of Brand's death, while tragic and saddening, had me, as an IU alum, pondering one  burning question: Is this somehow an omen that Bob Knight WILL return to Bloomington to accept his Indiana University Hall of Fame induction in-person?

Sure, it's kind of a ridiculous suggestion...but it's an interesting prospect to think about.  After all, Bob Knight may still be in Bloomington as the head coach if Brand wasn't so stuck on the zero-tolerance policy.  

Now, after studying and listening to Bob Knight for years, I have a good grasp of who he is as a person.  I know that Knight is saddened by today's news and I know he certainly wouldn't do something today just to spite what happened in the past.  

But I still wonder if today is at least an omen, a prophecy, telling the Hoosier faithful that their General, their idol will return on November 6th to finally take his rightful place in the Indiana University Hall of Fame.

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