The return of Bob Knight to an Indiana basketball game was driven by the former players.
Randy Wittman, Quinn Buckner, Mike Woodson and Pat Knight all made that perfectly clear in their comments after the memorable moment last month in Bloomington, Ind.
“I think the fact that we had, this was organized by players as a rule, and that was one of the big things we wanted to make sure we did,” Buckner said after the halftime ceremony in honor of Knight at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
By the players and for the players. That’s how it should have been, and that’s how it really had to be ensure that Bob Knight was actually going to take those final steps onto the Branch McCracken Court.
It wasn’t, after all, as if Coach Knight had suddenly rekindled his affection for Indiana University since he moved back to Bloomington in 2019.
But with the event of course taking place at Indiana University, there had to be someone that could be trusted at the school to facilitate everything the players wanted.
There were players to contact, scheduling, event planning at both Cook Hall and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and so much more — all while keeping things quiet enough so that the hysteria preceding the moment didn’t turn off Knight’s friends and family.
While it was a player driven moment, and Knight was on board, they needed someone on the inside that could be trusted.
And the former players had just that guy.
In fact it was someone quite skilled at making sure that everything is well coordinated and runs smoothly for Indiana basketball players and coaches.
“The players kept control of it, and the only person that we really used (at Indiana) was Scott Dolson,” Pat Knight said on a podcast with Jeff Goodman the day after the event.
Dolson, who was named the new Indiana Director of Athletics on Tuesday, was a basketball team manager for Knight from 1984 to 1988.
As a student manager, Dolson was the guts of the basketball program. A guy that made sure that Indiana was a well oiled machine as it churned towards the 1987 national championship.
By his senior year in 1988, Dolson was the head manager, and thus someone that Knight both liked and trusted to be in a position of leadership. Dolson’s first job out of college was working for an organization operated by Knight’s son Tim.
Those formative years as a manager stuck with Dolson throughout his 30-plus year career after college.
The Michigan City, Ind. native told the News Dispatch in 2012 that “there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t draw on things that I learned while I was a manager.”
So when it came time for the players to look to IU for support last month, the choice was easy.
“He was a guy that we knew we could trust and cares about Coach,” Pat Knight said of Dolson. “He was actually the point guy from a university standpoint, and we didn’t need anybody else.”
When Knight arrived at Cook Hall last month for the big day, it was Dolson who was waiting at the backdoor to let Knight in, while the chaos and anticipation played out on the other side of the building.
The entire production was put together in about four weeks, and the pressure was intense. If something went wrong on the IU side, Dolson was going to get the blame.
In the end, the players could not have been more pleased.
“It was just a great event today. Beautiful,” Woodson said.
“It couldn’t have gone off any better,” Wittman added.
“One of the greatest days in college sports history,” Buckner chimed in.
But ultimately, the Knight family would be the final judge of how the day went.
And with Dolson checking all of the boxes just like he had done countless times as a manager, there was a consensus view that Indiana had done a masterful job of pulling everything together on short notice.
“It was done first class,” Pat Knight said.
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