Knight, Belichick and perfect seasons

Bill Belichick’s perfect season didn’t end Sunday night. It ended earlier in the season when the New England Patriots were caught cheating, using video cameras to get an edge in a victory over the New York Jets.

Bobby Knight, the coach with the most wins ever in college basketball, resigned last night. Wonder if Knight ever broke the rules or cheated?

Apparently not. And maybe that says a lot about personal integrity, ethics and success.

In many ways, Knight and Belichick appear to me to be similar. Both are successful, demanding coaches with little fondness or regard for the news media. Did you catch Belichick’s interview after the Super Bowl? Pretty pathetic for a guy who is the public face of a multimillion-dollar business.

Here’s the point. Knight certainly was controversial and was fired at Indiana University despite winning three national championships there. My daughter, Jessica, graduated from IU and was there at the time of the Knight firing. So I followed that situation with a little more interest than normal. And if you want a case study in crisis management, take a close look at that.

But through it all, no one questioned Knight’s integrity or his commitment to his players.  Almost every single player on Knight’s teams at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech graduated. And as best I can tell, there was never any finger pointing in his direction that he violated any NCAA rules.

I have never met Belichick or Knight. So my image of them is shaped mostly by the news media. But I’ll always have a higher opinion of Bobby Knight than I will of Bill Belichick. Both successful. Both controversial.

But personal integrity and ethical conduct still matter.  That’s true in the world of sports. It’s equally true in the worlds of politics, business, education — and public relations.

We talk about personal integrity a lot in my ethics class at Kent State. After the disclosure of the cheating incident, students didn’t think very much of Bill Belichick either. So much for the perfect season.


One response to “Knight, Belichick and perfect seasons

  1. When Bobby was fired, I remember the campus rioted. Hundreds and hundreds of students marched to President Brand’s house and protested (and I was in a Philosophy class with his wife, Peg, at the time!) I was working for the IDS at the time (as I’m sure you remember) and we were torn in our coverage. Was he too “old school” in his practices? Maybe, maybe not. But he was always honest about who he was. And at IU, the real crazies were the fans and alumni that came out of the woodwork making threats and acting crazy when he was fired. Bobby was Bobby. Maybe an old school guy, but not dishonest. Not like Bill B. And maybe it’s because I’m an IU girl at heart, but I don’t even think of them in the same universe.

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