Bob Knight welcomes FBI's cleansing of college basketball

Then-coach Bob Knight talks to members of his Texas Tech team during a timeout against Boston College in their NCAA East regional first round game at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Thursday, March 15, 2007. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/MCT)

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Then-coach Bob Knight talks to members of his Texas Tech team during a timeout against Boston College in their NCAA East regional first round game at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Thursday, March 15, 2007. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/MCT)

You have to go back to the Mitchell Report, when former Maine Sen. George Mitchell conducted a 20-month investigation into steroid use in baseball, to find an event like the two-year FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting that is currently rocking the sports world.

There are many who believe that college basketball will never be the same, but former Indiana coach Bob Knight said that he for one is not surprised by the announcement. "There have been enough problems over the years," he said. "I'm kind of glad there have been some corrections made."

Did the second-winningest coach in NCAA history have any doubts about the allegations of $100,000 payouts to recruits through shoe company employees and coaches?

"The way you have to look at it is the people who have investigated that, it's not some local law enforcement operation. It's the Federal Bureau of Investigation," he said. "When the FBI gets involved in something I think that they are certain with what's going on. Apparently, that has been going on for some time. Now the FBI has gotten into it and is going to do an awful lot to really hurt basketball, but I think it'll be good for basketball to get rid of all of that stuff."

The biggest issue in recruiting, especially with high-level prospects, has been the simple fact these players are not students. They are looking to play one season before entering the NBA draft.

The NBA's collective bargaining agreement in 2005 set in stone that to be drafted, you had to be at least 19 years old during the year of the draft. Most high school players could no longer go pro right away, as Kevin Garnett did with the Timberwolves back in 1995.

Knight said this is what creates a culture in which players who are eventually going to be millionaires have people around them wanting money.

"If I were still coaching, I would do everything I could to eliminate one-and-done," he said. "I think the NBA should have a rule that they never took a kid until he graduated (college). So many times, they take these kids long before graduation and then the kid never has a chance to get a degree in anything. If it were me, I would fight the NBA to the bone."

Asked if he was surprised that the big shoe companies are allegedly involved, he said: "No, not really, the companies, the basketball companies have been involved with the use of shoes and one thing and another. And it's just I think that it's good that the FBI is handling things."

Does he expect more coaches to be named? "I think you'll see it if that is the case and I think there are probably a lot guys that aren't really all that interested right now in speaking to the FBI," he said.

Knight does believe that this kind of major operation could make the sport of college basketball better, much as the Mitchell Report did for baseball.

"I think there are some assets of the game that need to be cleaned up," he said. "A kid that comes to a school should understand that his scholarship is room, board, tuition and fees. If he gets a summer job, then it should be at the same payment that other people working at that job get. That's plenty for a kid.

"As I understand it there are parents that are being paid for kids to be at this college or that college, and then it is being sold to some idiot from the NBA that wants to get this kid after one year in college. A lot of kids are going to have heartbreak rather than being proud of what they have done."

Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said that he has been in close contact with a number of college leaders about the FBI investigation.

"There was some serious allegations that were brought forth by the FBI, and obviously I have had several conversations with athletic directors not only across the Big Ten but across the country, with Commissioner (Jim) Delany and the Big Ten staff," Coyle said. "I think it's the goal for all of us to stay on top of this and make sure we do all we can to protect such a great game as college basketball."

Coyle said that when it came to his staff, he believes that the Gophers are going to stay clean throughout the investigation. "I'm a big believer, it comes down to the people you work with and the people you associate with," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's college athletics or any other profession or any other business, you need to surround yourself with good people. I can tell you from our compliance staff, (director) Jeremiah Carter, he and his staff do a phenomenal job working with our coaches.

"I would tell you all of our coaches are very focused on doing things the right way with great integrity in how we manage our programs. I've had a chance to have conversations with Richard (Pitino) and his staff and feel very comfortable knowing what we know now in doing it the right way. That is our goal.

"The one thing I have learned in being back here for 16, 17 months is that doing it right matters in this state. I promise you and I promise all of our fans that our coaches, our staff, our compliance staff, all of us are focused on doing things the right way all the time."

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