BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Bob Knight, IU basketball coaching icon, has died. He was 83 years old.
Knight’s family confirmed the legendary coach’s death in a statement on his website Wednesday night.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share that Coach Bob Knight passed away at his home in Bloomington surrounded by his family,” Knight’s family said. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and we appreciate the continued respect for our privacy…”
No cause of death was given by the family in their statement. However, Knight had been battling poor health for many years and was recently hospitalized in April of this year.
The IU community honored the late coach’s legacy by placing a memorial with flowers, candles, and balloons next to the 1976 National Champions plaque outside Simon Skjotd Assembly Hall.
Knight served as the head coach of the IU men’s basketball program from 1971 to 2000. During his tenure, Knight led the Hoosiers to three NCAA national championship titles (1976, 1981, 1987), five Final Four appearances, and 11 Big Ten championship titles.
Other notable accolades include an undefeated season in 1976, and a gold medal as head coach of the U.S. national team during the 1984 Summer Olympics.
During his career, Knight had a list of basketball legends to play under his guidance. Among these players included NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, Big Ten points leader Calbert Cheaney, and current IU men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson.
“…lots of teammate tears flowing tonight for our coach,” Thomas said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
As a coach, Knight drew much praise for popularizing the “motion offense,” a tactic that encouraged passing and selflessness among teammates. He also was a major proponent of man-to-man coverage on the defensive end of the floor.
Nicknamed “The General,” Knight was best known for his quick-fire temper and frequent outbursts from the bench. His dedication to the game led to him being the sixth all-time winningest coach in NCAA history with 902 victories.
However, Knight’s controversial actions both on and off the court were just as prevalent as his successes.
Among the controversies included shouting profanities during games, a mountain of indecent comments to the media, and allegedly putting his hands on a player’s neck. Perhaps his most infamous moment came during the 1985 matchup against rival Purdue.
After arguing a technical foul call against the Hoosiers, Knight threw a bright red chair across the Assembly Hall floor past Purdue guard Steve Reid as he was preparing to take a free-throw shot. Knight received two consecutive technical fouls and was ejected from the game.
His actions eventually led to a “zero tolerance” policy enforced in 2000 from then-IU President Myles Brand to combat the coach’s controversial behavior.
After an alleged physical altercation with an IU student less than a month later, Knight was asked to resign from his position. When he refused, he was fired, forever straining his relationship with the university.
“As far as the hierarchy at Indiana University at that time, I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for those people,” Knight said in a 2017 interview. “And that in mind, I have no interest in ever going back to that university.”
Despite his questionable actions and coaching tactics, Knight maintained a beloved status among former players and the IU community.
“He influenced my life in ways I could never repay,” IU basketball coach Mike Woodson said. “[H]e always challenged me to get the most out of myself as a player and more importantly, as a person.”
Knight would go on to coach at Texas Tech before officially retiring from coaching in 2008. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
In February of 2020, Knight seemed to rekindle his relationship with IU when he returned to Assembly Hall for the Indiana-Purdue rivalry game for the first time since his departure. He then made frequent appearances in the following years, attending both practices and games.
Knight would eventually move back to Bloomington in 2019 where he would remain for the rest of his life.
In lieu of flowers, Knight’s family is instead encouraging donations to the Alzheimer’s Association or Marian University in honor of his legacy.
“We will continue to celebrate [Bob’s] life and remember him, today and forever as a beloved Husband, Father, Coach and Friend,” Knight’s family said.
Josh Bode, Emma Watson, and Kelsey Dennehy contributed to this report