Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brand, Knight forever linked by coach's dismissal at Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — For all of his accomplishments during his eight years as president of Indiana University, Myles Brandwill forever be remembered for one thing.

He was the man who fired Bob Knight.

If that's viewed in a negative light, it would be an unfair characterization, former IU Alumni Association president and chief executive officer Ken Beckley said.

"I hope that will be seen in a very positive way," Beckley said. "And I hope that history, maybe 30, 40 or 50 years from now, will judge (Brand) for the courage it took to make that decision.

"It was something that absolutely needed to happen, and perhaps should have happened earlier than that. I have admired Myles even more for taking that stand, and then withstanding all of the negativity that poured upon him and on the university for his action."

Brand, who died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer, hired Beckley in January 2002 to head Indiana's alumni association. It was a post that Beckley held until retiring in 2007. In 2004, Beckley headed the search committee that eventually hired Rick Greenspan as IU's athletic director.

Beckley said Brand was the greatest boss he ever had.

"He told me, 'I'm hiring you to run this association. I'll stay out of your way. If you need help, feel free to come to me.' " Beckley said. "Myles understood the importance of the involvement of alumni in furthering the growth of the university. He realized that whether through contributions of funds or time and effort, it was not possible for the university to become greater without the support of alumni."

For most of Knight's years that overlapped with Brand (1994-2000), the coach and president had a good relationship.

That changed toward the end of the 1999-2000 season when footage was released of Knight had allegedly choking former IU player Neil Reed at a 1997 practice. Brand didn't fire Knight immediately, but in May 2000, he imposed a "zero tolerance" sanction on the coach, warning him that any further incidents would lead to his termination.

Less than four months later, after Knight had a physical confrontation with IU student Kent Harvey, Brand fired the coach.

Clarence Doninger, IU's athletic director at the time, said he believed that Brand really tried to work with Knight. He said the two were friends.

"The way I think he'll be remembered is that he was the president of Indiana University, and he was friends with the coach, and Bob (Knight) let him down," Doninger said. "The action he ultimately took was something he had to do."

Former IU vice president Terry Clapacs, out of the country on vacation, told the Associated Press in June that the final months before Brand fired Knight "was a very difficult time for Myles."

"I know he worked extremely hard to resolve those matters in a very, very different way," Clapacs said. "The way it ended up was not the way he wanted it to end. But at some point, you have to make a decision that is tough for the university and he did that."

Pat Knight, who was on the IU staff when his dad was let go and who took over for his father as the Texas Tech coach in February 2008, expressed his condolences.

"Just because he fired us doesn't mean we want anything bad to happen," Pat Knight said. "That's shocking. I don't wish death upon anybody. That's sad, no matter who it is."

Beckley said he doesn't know if Bob Knight reached out to Brand in the final months of his life, but he hopes that was the case.

"As a public, I'm sure that we'll never know, but I hope that he did that," Beckley said. "I really hope that Bob reached out in some way by phone, letter or personal visit. I would just hope that for Myles' sake, there would have been some peace in his mind over these last months."


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Contributing: Wire reports

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