Bobby Knight would have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview issue, but Indiana University's guiding light wouldn't sit still for it -- and therein lies a tail, er, tale.

The weekly, as Walter Bingham, an SI senior editor, related to Tom Keating of the Indianapolis Star, decided the Hoosiers will be No. 1 -- "and we'll put Bobby Knight on the cover . . .

"What I had in mind was to get Knight to go out to any stop light in Bloomington and catch him in some kind of pose symbolizing how his defense stops the opponents."

Knight demurred, in his wrath over "the thinking of people who can tear you to pieces to print, like Sports Illustrated did to me after the Pan American Games, and then turn around and expect me to pose for their cover -- to me, that's hypocrisy."

"The exact message from Knight," Bingham said, "was to take the stop light, cut it into 25 peices and ram it up the (unmentionable) of 25 people at Sports Illustrated."

Exact? Knight's version differs a bit: "I told them to walk outside the Time-Life Building in New York, reach up and stick the whole building up their (unmentionable)" . . .

Major league baseball's club owners are touchy, touchy about the current negotiations with the Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement. So must so, reports the New York Times, that they have established a system of fines of up to $500,000 for any management person who makes pulic statements about the give-and-take . . .

The Boston Red Sox yesterday settled a five-year contract on their veteran right fielder Dwight Evans. The estimated $2 million package for Evans includes a two-year no-trade clause that he appreciates as finally making him feel "family" -- "I've been with the ball club for seven years and I've been 'traded' for eight years" . . .

Basketball casualty: Herman Veal, 6-6 Maryland freshman forward, broke a foot in practice . . .

Classy new Georgetown hoop captain: John Duren . . .

Steve Mamakos, Holly Mims, Jimmy Lake, Dick O'Brien and some other great names of yore were saluted last night with induction into the D.C. Boxing Hall of Fame at the Touchdown Club.

P.S. Sports Illustrated, in an end run around the No. 1 coach on Puerto Rico's most wanted list, went ahead and, by special order from the jersey manufacturer, "used an Indiana jersey with No. 1 on it for the cover."