In the four months since his Indiana University basketball team won the national championship, Bobby Knight has explored the posibility of quitting coaching to work for CBS-TV as a commentator on the network's new college basketball series this season.
"I don't have any interest in commenting on what a 'reliable source' says about me," Knight said late Monday night. "It would look awfully funny if you wrote that story and then I released tht I had, on July 15, signed a 10-year contract to coach at Indiana University. I've never released contract information, but it I were forced to because of an unfounded rumor, I'd do it."
Yesterday morning, CBS-TB vice president Kevin O'Malley said he had talked to Knight often this summer about being the network's version of NBC's Al McGuire. CBS will carry seven nationally televised games beginning Nov. 28.
O'Malley said CBS is looking for credibility in its basketball coverage, and that Knight was considering new directions in his career the way any person would after 15 years of success. The men first met during the NCAA regionals. They talked mostly informally, O'Malley said, but an Indiana source said the talks as late as six weeks ago had moved to proposed contract terms.
Knight, the source said, may earn $200,000 a year at Iniana, including his salary and income from a summer basketball camp and clinic appearances, and might have doubled that with CBS.
But O'Malley believes Knight will stay in coaching.
"Given the nature of our conversations, it would be a disservice to Bobby to make it seem he was aggressively pursuing the job," O'Malley said said. "He was very intrigued by it, but I never had the feeling he was intent on doing this. I frankly didn't consider it that great a possibility. Talking with Bobby was an interesting experience, but we never abandoned the prospect of looking at other people. It would be a disservice to him and to college basketball to exaggerate Bobby's interest in us."
There is only a slight chance of Knight going to work for CBS, O'Malley said. "He hasn't truly said yes or no. He has kind of let it wane . . . I think this is not the time in his own mind to leave coaching . . . His affinity for coaching and for the colege game in particular is so strong a bong."
Knight, who had returned to Indiana from an Idaho vacation to visit his injured player, Landon Turner, could not be reached for further comment after O'Malley confirmed their talks. He was reported en route to Idaho.
After his 1976 team won the NCAA championship, Knight reportedly was given a five-year extension of his Indiana contract. That means this coming season would be the last under the current arrangement. The Indiana source said Knight may be unwilling to talk publicly about the CBS contacts because, "It is Knight's code of honor that he would never do anything that would seem to put the university up against the wall in contract negotiations."
At 41, Knight has been a major-college head coach 16 seasons. His teams at West Point had a 102-50 won-lost record in six years. His Indiana teams are 231-68.
Knight has said he never wants to coach in professional basketball, although he might take a job as a general manager. He said he enjoyed doing radio commentary during the NCAA finals two seasons ago, and the talks with CBS may have sprung from that experience.
O'Malley said Knight "never indicated any dissatisfaction with Indiana," and he believes this all to be "a tempest in a teapot (because) Bobby would be very loathe to abandon the university."