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Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Tech reaction to Knight flap disturbing

Texas Tech folks ignored coach’s rude out-of-order remarks at postgame news conference

December 19, 2001

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Apology rendered. Apology accepted.

And in the background, that song you hear is "Back Home Again in Indiana." Lubbock, Indiana.

Sure seems like it, because in Texas we prefer to shoot a lot more straight.

From the fax machine Monday night came an apology. Jerry MacDonald, general manager of Houston's Compaq Center, was circulating his regrets over the Friday night incident in which, according to MacDonald, coach Bob Knight suggested they "go out back" and duke it out.

MacDonald had confronted Knight near the Red Raiders team buses after the coach used a portion of his postgame news conference to complain about the arena's locker room facilities.

On Monday, the Philadelphia-based management company that runs the Houston arena stepped in, and MacDonald suddenly was unavailable. Reached at his home in Spring, MacDonald's wife informed a caller that her husband would no longer be commenting.

Nine months after Knight arrived in Texas, he has finally had his first unsavory incident. Knight was exercising his constitutional right to be a rude guest. The assigned locker room, according to Knight, would have been "cramped, even for four midgets."

MacDonald was standing nearby and heard the whole thing. He should have considered the source and ignored the remarks. But he wrongly tried to object to Knight's criticism, and the next thing MacDonald knew, he was being interviewed on ESPN.

He was wrong, but I believe him.

I believe his version of the incident because, frankly, most of America wouldn't trust Bob Knight any further than they could throw his chair. His personal spokesman, Randy Farley, said Monday that this is because the media doesn't always speak the truth about the coach.

Farley, in fact, spun the Compaq Center incident in a completely different direction. He argued that if MacDonald had anything to say, he should have addressed it to Knight in the postgame news conference. He also didn't seem to find anything wrong with Knight publicly criticizing the locker rooms.

Farley accused MacDonald of having "his own agenda" and even suggested it was a case of "arena envy."

Oh, please, children. Randy Farley is a high school teacher by trade, not a journalist or public-relations professional. His link to Knight is that he married the daughter of the late coach and author Clair Bee. Knight wrote the foreword in the reissue of Bee's Chip Hilton books.

The disturbing thing about the weekend incident is how quickly the Tech folks mobilized to defend their new coach. They turned around the episode and attacked MacDonald, completely ignoring that Knight's rude remarks at the news conference were out of order, and that he cursed and challenged the man to fight.

If the wagon-circling and spin-doctoring sound familiar, of course, it's the same way that Knight's outbursts once were handled at Indiana University. It's unfortunate that a once-respected figure such as AD Gerald Myers be reduced to covering for Knight.

He did, however, hire him. Thus, let's hope he's prepared for future unpleasantness.

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