Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2001

Tech coach says he will focus on team, not rumors about Knight

March 8, 2001


— Texas Tech administrators were tightlipped Thursday about the possibility of former Indiana coach Bobby Knight becoming the Red Raiders' head coach a job that belongs to the embattled James Dickey.

Dickey said he won't let the rumors affect his focus, which is winning games.

"My focus is on having our team prepared as well as we possibly can and making sure these players are given every opportunity to have every chance they can to succeed," Dickey told The Associated Press early Thursday from his hotel room in Kansas City.

The Red Raiders faced Oklahoma State in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament at 2:20 p.m. Thursday. Tech (9-18) is the 12th seed in the tournament.

The Dallas Morning News reported in Thursday's editions that Dickey, 46, will be dismissed after this season. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that Texas Tech administrators have approached Knight about taking over.

Attorney Russell Yates, who is represents Knight, said coaching is his client's forte.

"He would not knowingly attach his name to a job that is not open," Yates said. "That is not him."

A former college coach, who is close to Knight but asked not to be identified, told the Avalanche-Journal that Tech president David Schmidly and athletic director Gerald Myers traveled to Naples, Fla., earlier this week to discuss with Knight the possibility of replacing Dickey.

Dickey said he first learned of the report from reporters and friends in Lubbock who saw the story on television.

"We have had a lot of our friends call us from Lubbock," said Dickey, who is in Kansas City with his wife and children. "They just wondered if we knew anything and the answer is: 'No, we don't."'

Myers has declined to comment.

There are three years remaining on Dickey's contract, which has a base annual salary of $200,000. According to his contract, neither win-loss records nor attendance records can be considered "good cause for termination" without compensation.

"I'm not going to fire myself," Dickey said. "I'm not going to quit."

Dickey has compiled a 166-123 record, including two NCAA tournament berths, in his 10 seasons as Tech's head coach. But Tech has dropped 11 of the team's past 12 games and have suffered through four straight losing seasons.

Dickey helped Tech recover from a situation remarkably like the one that may force him out before his arrival, the program had endured four straight losing seasons and had a 13-45 record in the preceding two years.

Myers, who coached the Red Raiders from 1971-1991, is said to have hand-picked Dickey as his successor.

But Tech administrators haven't exactly given Dickey a vote of confidence in the past few weeks.

Last week, Tech administrators said they would conduct an evaluation of Dickey and his team's performance.

"I don't think anybody's satisfied with the season," Myers said at the time. "Not the coach, the fans, anybody."

Dickey said he has met with both Myers and Schmidly. He said neither indicated what his future with the school might hold. He wouldn't elaborate.

Meanwhile, Tech officials have reportedly had a clandestine courtship of the controversial Knight, who was fired from Indiana last fall for a "pattern of unacceptable behavior."

That pattern included a chance meeting with a freshman, whose greeting offended the coach and prompted Knight to grab him by the arm.

It was enough for Indiana University President Myles Brand to dismiss Knight for violating a "zero-tolerance" policy after a lengthy investigation into angry encounters Knight had with a former player, Athletics Director Clarence Doninger and an IU secretary.

Since his dismissal, Knight has repeatedly said he'd be interested in another coaching job.

Former Texas-El Paso coaching legend Don Haskins, a friend of Knight's, said he hadn't spoken to Knight in a few months, but doubts he would take the Tech job.

"That doesn't even sound like someplace he'd go," Haskins said.

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