Bob Knight, who became the winningest coach in Division I men's college basketball long after he became one of college sports' most controversial figures, resigned suddenly yesterday, effectively ending one of the game's most decorated and discussed careers.
In a move that Knight hinted was done to pave the way for his son and assistant coach, Pat, to follow him as coach at Texas Tech, Knight informed officials at the Big 12 school that he was leaving with 10 games left on the schedule.
"My thinking was that for Pat and for this team - most of which is returning next year - the best thing for the long run for this team would be for Pat and his staff to coach these remaining 10 games," Knight told the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal.
Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told the Associated Press: "He said he was tired and that it was best to go ahead and do it now. I think Bob is through with coaching. I think he got to the point where it wasn't fun for him."
Knight's decision to resign came after talking with his longtime mentor, former California coach Pete Newell, who served as an adviser when Knight coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in the 1984 Games. Knight reportedly talked with Newell for more than an hour Sunday.
Knight, 67, has been at Texas Tech since March 2001, six months after being fired after 30 seasons at Indiana, where he earned 662 of his career 902 victories and three national championships, including a perfect season in 1975-76. Knight began his career at Army, where he coached a future Hall of Famer named Mike Krzyzewski.
His relationship with Krzyzewski was long relished by both men, and the former Army captain followed his mentor in starting his own coaching career at West Point. But when Krzyzewski's own stature approached Knight's, their relationship began to sour. The low point came when Knight refused to shake Krzyzewski's hand after Duke beat Indiana in the semifinals of the 1992 Final Four.
Knight has often been applauded for having never committed an NCAA infraction, but his courtside behavior as well as his off-court confrontations generated many headlines and eventually led to his ouster at Indiana by then-school president Myles Brand, now the executive director of the NCAA, for what was called "a pattern of defiant and hostile behavior."
Knight, who infamously threw a chair onto a court during a game at Indiana's Assembly Hall, punched a Puerto Rican policeman during the Pan American Games and even kicked at his son Pat when he was a player, was fired by Brand after the coach went after an Indiana student who uttered, "Hey, Knight, what's up?"
It came a few months after Brand had said there would be "zero tolerance" for anymore physical or verbal altercations after an incident in which Knight put his hands on the neck of one of his players, Neil Reed.
Though he never achieved the same level of success at Texas Tech as he did at Indiana, Knight turned the program around. The Red Raiders had five 20-win seasons in his first six seasons, something that had never been done at the school.
Knight's final victory came Sunday, when the Red Raiders beat Oklahoma State.
"Coach Knight has had a great career. His coaching record speaks for itself," said Sally Logue Post, a spokeswoman for Texas Tech.
When he passed North Carolina coach Dean Smith as major college basketball's winningest coach with his 880th win, Knight had Frank Sinatra's "My Way" piped onto the public address system in the arena.
"I've simply tried to do what I think is best," Knight said. "Regrets? Sure. Just like the song. I have regrets. I wish I could done things better at times. I wish I would have had a better answer, a better way, at times. But just like he said, I did it my way and when I look back on it, I don't think my way was all that bad."
The Associated Press and ESPN.com contributed to this article.
1,273: Career games
902: Career victories
70: Postseason victories
36: NBA players
29: 20-win seasons
28: NCAA tournaments
15: NBA first-round picks
4: 30-win seasons
3: National championships
1: Undefeated season
1: NIT championship
1: Olympic gold medal