Bob Knight, a college basketball coaching great who won three national titles at Indiana, an Olympic gold medal, and retired as the game’s all-time winningest coach, has died at the age of 83.
Knight dealt with health issues over the last five-plus years, and he moved back to Bloomington in 2019 to be closer to friends and family.
His relationship with IU was strained for 20 years, but Knight returned publicly to a basketball game at Assembly Hall in 2020.
Head coach Mike Woodson played at IU from 1976 to 1980 and was one of Knight’s favorite players during his time in Bloomington. When Woodson became the Hoosiers coach in 2021, Knight began making regular appearances at Indiana practices, and that turned into a weekly habit in 2023.
Knight was born in Massillon, Ohio in 1940 and raised in nearby Orrville, where he attended high school and played three sports. He was the only child of Carroll (known as Pat) and Hazel Knight, parents who were both around 40 when he was born. His dad was a railroad worker, and his mom was a teacher in Orrville.
After starring on the Orrville basketball team, Knight played at Ohio State under Hall of Fame coach Fred Taylor. He had a role off the bench for the 1960 national champion Buckeyes, and graduated from OSU in 1962.
Knight then went on to coach the JV basketball team at Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) High School for one season before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He accepted an assistant coach position in 1963, and was named the head basketball coach at Army in 1965.
His coaching appointment to West Point made him the youngest varsity coach in college history at age 24. Knight had a 102-50 record during his six seasons (1965-71) at West Point. He guided the Black Knights to four trips to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) (1966, 1968, 1969, 1970) and helped Army to one third-place and two fourth-place showings at the NIT. Knight coached Army to a pair of 20-win seasons, including an Academy-record 22 wins in 1969-70. He also remains one of just two Army basketball coaches to have registered more than 100 wins.
In 1971, Knight was hired by Indiana, where he changed the Hurryin’ Hoosiers into a mentally tough and disciplined team focused on motion offense and man-to-man defense. At IU, Knight went on to win three national championships in his 29 years leading the Hoosiers. His overall record at Indiana was 662-239.
In total, Knight led IU to 11 Big Ten Conference titles, five Final Fours, and a 32-0 undefeated season in 1976. That 1975-76 campaign remains the last undefeated season in men’s college basketball. Indiana made the NCAA Tournament in 24 of Knight’s 29 years at the helm.
During his time in Bloomington, Knight coached 12 Big Ten MVPs, saw 29 players go to the NBA, and 98 percent of his 4-year players graduated.
Knight was named the Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981 and 1989, and the National Coach-of-the-Year by unanimous selection in 1975; Coach-of-the-Year by AP and Basketball Weekly in 1976; 1987 Naismith Coach of the Year; and Coach of the Year by Associated Press, United Press International and United States Basketball Writers in 1989.
In 1984, Knight became one of only three coaches to win the triple crown with an NCAA title, an NIT title, and an Olympic gold medal.
After an unceremonious departure from Indiana in 2000, Knight coached Texas Tech from 2001 to 2008.
In 2008, at Texas Tech, Knight won the 900th game of his career shortly before he retired in February of that year with 902 wins.
Knight is survived by his wife Karen and sons Tim and Pat.
The Knight family released more details on Wednesday evening:
Updated: 6:14pm EST, 11/01/2023
It is with heavy hearts that we share that Coach Bob Knight passed away at his home in Bloomington surrounded by his family. We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as Coach requested a private family gathering, which is being honored. We will continue to celebrate his life and remember him, today and forever as a beloved Husband, Father, Coach, and Friend.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Coach with a memorial contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association or Marian University.
To donate, please visit:
In Memory of Coach Bob Knight – Alzheimer’s Association The Alzheimer’s Association leads the charge in Alzheimer’s care, support, research and advocacy.
In Memory of Coach Bob Knight – Marian University Marian University provides an education distinguished in its ability to prepare transformative leaders for service to the world.
Donations to any charity in his name are also appreciated.
– The Knight Family
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”