BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bob Knight, a renowned figure in college basketball history, passed away today at the age of 83, surrounded by family and friends.
Knight, known for his illustrious coaching career, amassed a record of 902-371 during his 42-year tenure as a head coach at various institutions. His coaching journey included stints at Army (1966-71), Indiana (1972-2000), and Texas Tech (2002-08). When he retired in 2008, his 902 wins ranked as the all-time highest, a record that currently stands at sixth. Throughout his career, he earned four National Coach of the Year awards, five Big Ten Coach of the Year titles, and induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (1991), the College Basketball Hall of Fame (2006), and the IU Athletics Hall of Fame (2009).
Although Knight achieved considerable success at all his coaching stops, his impact was most significant during his time in Bloomington. Hired by Indiana University at the age of 30 in 1971, he led the program to three NCAA titles (1976, 1981, 1987), five Final Four appearances (1973, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1992), and 11 Big Ten Regular Season Championships (1973-76, 1980-81, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993) in his 29-year tenure. Knight’s 1976 team, which finished with a perfect 32-0 record en route to an NCAA title, remains the most recent team to achieve an undefeated season on its way to an NCAA championship. His 1975 and 1976 teams also went undefeated (18-0) in Big Ten play, a feat unmatched in the conference since. Indiana’s 37 consecutive Big Ten wins during that period set a record that has never been seriously threatened.
Knight’s dominance at IU extended through three decades. The 1970s saw four Big Ten titles, two Final Four appearances, and the legendary undefeated 1976 national championship team. In the 1980s, his teams clinched two NCAA titles and five Big Ten championships, making them the most successful college basketball team of the decade. The 1990s witnessed two more league crowns, another Final Four appearance, 10 NCAA tournament bids, and four straight Sweet 16 appearances. The 1993 team, in particular, went 17-1 in the Big Ten, secured the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and featured four players who would later become first-round NBA Draft picks.
In addition to his contributions to Indiana University, Knight achieved success on the international stage. He assembled and coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles and guided the U.S. team to the 1979 Pan American Games gold.
Not only did Knight’s teams excel on the court, but his student-athletes also excelled academically. During his coaching career at IU, 98 percent of his four-year players earned their degrees.
Knight was not just one of the sport’s most successful coaches but also one of the most innovative. He popularized the ‘motion offense,’ a style based on player movement, spacing, passing, cutting, and screening, which remains a staple for many successful coaches today. Defensively, he staunchly adhered to the merits of man-to-man defense.
Knight’s coaching philosophies contributed to Indiana’s success, and he also attracted and developed exceptional student-athletes in Bloomington. He coached nine Big Ten MVPs and 27 All-Americans at IU. Steve Downing, Scott May, and Calbert Cheaney were among the notable players who achieved national recognition.
Bob Knight was born on October 25, 1940, in Orrville, Ohio. He played basketball at Ohio State, where he won the 1960 NCAA title and had NCAA runner-up finishes in 1961 and 1962. After graduating from Ohio State in 1962, he briefly coached high school basketball at Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) H.S. and later enlisted in the Army, where he eventually became the head coach of the Army’s men’s basketball team. His remarkable journey led to his hiring as IU’s head coach in 1971 by Athletic Director Bill Orwig.