Bob Knight has sued Indiana University for unspecified damages, including lost income valued at more than $2 million, accusing the university of breaching his contract when it fired him as men's basketball coach more than two years ago.
Attorneys for Knight, now the coach at Texas Tech, filed a complaint in state circuit court in Bloomington, Ind., alleging that Knight was fired by IU President Myles Brand without cause and without a proper meeting with the board of trustees or a chance to defend himself.
In the complaint filed Friday after extended settlement talks collapsed, Knight also alleged that a "zero tolerance" policy to check his on- and off-court behavior unilaterally was imposed by the university three months before the firing and never was part of his contract.
"Coach Knight wants to coach," said Russell Yates, his Colorado-based attorney. "Litigation is not something we wanted to do. [But] we're not willing to walk away from the whole thing."
In a statement released yesterday, the school said, "The university has fulfilled all of its obligations under the contract it had with Mr. Knight. Indiana University will defend its interests vigorously."
In a telephone interview, Yates said the sides basically had agreed on a undisclosed monetary settlement of less than $1 million, but the negotiations broke off when the university added an unspecified condition to the settlement. Yates declined to specify that condition.
In the Oct. 29 editions of the Indianapolis Star, a Hoosier alum -- one of 45 IU basketball fans suing the university over Knight's firing -- was quoted as saying that the school wanted Knight to persuade them to drop their lawsuit. The fans' lawsuit contends that decisions were made in secret meetings in violation of the state's open record act.
"They wanted Knight to convince us to dismiss our lawsuit," said Robert Nemanich, a plaintiff and 1984 IU graduate from Racine, Wis., according to the newspaper. "They wanted Knight to convince us to dismiss our lawsuit. It looked to me like a form of extortion."
"The university did not initiate the discussions" about the fan lawsuit, university spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said yesterday. At the time the newspaper quoted Nemanich's comments, she said they represented "a mischaracterization of the negotiations."
Jankowski declined to comment on the proposed monetary part of settlement figure.
Knight had a 661-240 record and won three national championships in five Final Four appearances during 29 seasons at Indiana.
In September, Knight agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a $1 million federal lawsuit by former Indiana assistant Ron Felling, who said Knight shoved and punched him during an argument on Dec. 1, 1999.
Knight was hired by Texas Tech six months after he was fired by Indiana and led the Red Raiders to last season's NCAA tournament.
Brand will become the president of the NCAA on Jan. 1.