San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

COVER: Former Indiana and Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight talks to former Hays County Judge Jim Powers at Powers’ house in Dripping Springs during a fundraiser for congressional candidate Roger Williams. Asked by an audience members about the Penn State molestation scandal, Knight opined at length about Joe Paterno, the allegations and NCAA sanctions against the university. COURTESY PHOTO

by BRAD ROLLINS

DRIPPING SPRINGS — The NCAA’s decision to strip 11 years of football victories from official record books as punishment for Penn State’s handling of the Sandusky child rape allegations is “idiotic” and misdirected, retired college basketball coaching great Bobby Knight told a Dripping Springs crowd Thursday evening.

Knight

NCAA officials handed down the sanctions on Monday as part of a package that fines Nittany Lions athletics $60 million; bans it from postseason football for four years and slashes the number of scholarships it can offer student athletes. The ruling also stripped the school of any football victory it earned between 1998-2011, a measure that cuts the heart out of beloved head coach Joe Paterno’s career records and knocks him from his ranking as the most winning college football coach in NCAA history. Paterno died in January, two months after he was fired.

“I don’t know whether the NCAA actually has the prerogative to do what it did. This seems to me to be a criminal offense that they’re dealing with. I think it’s a terrible thing that they would take [winning] games away from these kids,” Knight told a crowd of nearly 100 people at a political fundraiser in the Dripping Springs home of former Hays County Judge Jim Powers.

“This was the most educationally sound football team playing in the country, and to eliminate those wins, I think, is idiotic. What the hell did those kids have to do with it? They’re not punishing Paterno. Paterno’s dead. They’re punishing these kids that graduated, that played the game. I think that is ridiculous, that part of it,” Knight said.

Knight was asked by an attendee about the NCAA sanctions against Penn State during a question-and-answer period following remarks by Knight and Weatherford car dealer Roger Williams, who is running for the Republican nomination in Texas’s 25th congressional district. He said he was talking specifically about the part of the sanctions vacating Penn State victories, not the rest of the penalties.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded in an investigation that Paterno lied to grand jurors about how long he knew longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was being accused of sexually assaulting boys. Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of molesting or raping 10 boys over a years-long period; he is awaiting sentencing and is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.

At the fundraiser, Knight said he can’t understand why Paterno did not do more to bring allegations against Sandusky to the attention of law enforcement. But he described Paterno’s behavior as a “terrible mistake” in an otherwise shining career.

“I feel badly for Joe and I’d like to think that if that had happened to me, I would have gone to the police. All he had to do was take it to the chief of police and say, ‘Here’s what I got.’ But, you know, you never know how someone else’s mind works,” Knight said.

Knight said Paterno talked him out of a stunt Knight intended to pull at a game in 1990 between Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers and the Penn State basketball team.

Knight had already riled up Pennyslvannia residents when he welcomed Penn State to the Big Ten by quipping that road games to rural State College, Pa. required a three-day camping trip. Knight said he intended to stoke the controversy further by wearing camouflaged camping gear on the sidelines while coaching the game. But Paterno convinced Knight the provocation would backfire.

“He was really concerned about me. He was looking after me” even though he and Paterno were not close, Knight said. He’s since wondered why Paterno did not feel similar empathy for Sandusky’s victims. “That’s hard for me to associate those two things.”

Knight, the second-most winning college basketball coach in NCAA history, is known for being stubbornly outspoken. He did not disappoint the audience at the Powers’ fundraiser. Williams, who looks to clench the GOP nomination in next Tuesday’s runoff election, is a longtime friend, Knight said. Williams would take to Congress the sensibilities of a businessman, not a politician, he said.

“He’s not a damn politician,” Knight said of Williams.

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7 thoughts on “Bobby Knight says Penn State sanctions ‘idiotic’

  1. Knight is making this all about Paterno. He’s missing the point. The entire athletic program protected Sandusky and effectively aided and abetted his serial raping of little boys.

    By focusing on Paterno and questioning the NCAA’s authority to dole out this punishment, Knight is falling for the same kind of obfuscation and rationalization that put Penn State in this mess in the first place. In fact, his response says one thing above all: If one of his assistant b-ball coaches was accused of raping kids in the locker rooms, he’d look to save the program first and worry about the bleeding, sobbing victims last. But hey, it’s all about the kids, right Bobby?

    Penn State’s football program violated the trust of everyone who saw it as a credible, legitimate program. It adorned itself in the guise of a school that placed ethics, fair play and honesty above winning — all while deciding that protecting an active child molester from prosecution was the “humane” thing to do. That school is lucky to still have a football team at all.

  2. Tarl, consider the source ! bobby knight is the idiot. My spin on why they took away Penn St wins is because that is when the abuse started. If JoPa would have gone to police “back then” then his program would have lost schollies and all other kind of punishments. So, technically Peen St. would have not have those players in the first place. So that is why they vacated those wins.

  3. Bobby Knight proves himself o be a bigger idiot every day. Powers, Willams and Knight are three of a kind.

  4. I think it’s sad that a public figure like Knight has to rent himself out to wealthy politicos through Lilly & Co. It seems like an escort service or something.

  5. Where is Rollins report about the fundraiser and the positions of Roger Williams? Isn’t that why Knoght was there. 98% of this article is about something that has nothing to do with this important election and that’s the main focus of this article. Brad maybe you really should just stick with doing cut and paste from the Texas Tibune.

  6. Knight was a great coach, with a great record for graduating his players. He’s also always been an a*s. But this is beyond the pale. Paterno hid evidence of a serial child rapist. Not a child abuser, let’s be honest people. Sandusky is a serial child rapist. After his time in prison, he should go straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect a cent.

    The NCAA did every thing they could to not penalize the current players. They can transfer w/o loss of eligibility.

    As for Paterno and Penn St. losing wins, GREAT. They, Paterno and Penn St. administration hid a serial child rapist. They should go to prison along with Sandusky.

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