Bob Knight, one of the winningest college basketball coaches in history, has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 83.
“We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as Coach requested a private family gathering, which is being honored,” the family statement said. “We will continue to celebrate his life and remember him, today and forever as a beloved Husband, Father, Coach, and Friend.”
His family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association or to Marian University in Indianapolis.
Knight was known primarily as the volatile longtime coach at Indiana University, which won three national titles during his reign and went undefeated in the 1975-1976 season ― a triumph that no other college basketball team has achieved since.
At the time of his death, he was the sixth-winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball history and had to 662 wins for IU under his belt ― nearly three times his losses.
But Knight’s hot temper ultimately led to the end of his nearly 30-year tenure at IU, which fired him in 2000 following allegations that he berated and roughly grabbed a student whose radio host father regularly criticized Knight.
Knight’s controversies spanned decades. In the 1970s, he was convicted of assaulting a police officer in Puerto Rico. Then there was the time in 1985 when he famously threw a chair onto the court over a disagreement with a referee, leading to a one-game suspension. In 1991, a video was leaked of him threatening and swearing at his players ― an occurrence team members said was commonplace. Former players also allege that Knight once showed them his own feces and told them, “This is how you guys are playing.”
Knight shrugged off the scandals that surrounded him. He once told the crowd before a game, “When my time on earth is gone, and my activities are passed, I want [them to] bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.”
He later coached at Texas Tech University, from 2001 to 2008. He quickly upgraded the team’s standings, leading it to postseason appearances in each of his first four years there.
Knight was a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump and made an appearance at a 2018 Trump rally, calling him “a great defender of the United States of America.” Trump claims that Knight was one of the first people to encourage him to run for president, saying at a 2016 rally that Knight called him and said: “You know, Mr. Trump, I don’t know you. But you’re the kind of guy I want to see run for president.”
Knight was also a vocal supporter of Trump’s efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump commemorated Knight on Truth Social shortly after his death was announced.
“The World just lost an incredible person, the Great Bobby Knight. He was not just an award-winning and record-breaking Coach, he was loyal to his Players, to his State, and to our Country—Tough as nails, but a big heart,” Trump wrote. “When he Endorsed me, it was like the whole Great World of Indiana opened up happy and wide. Our hearts and prayers are with his wonderful wife Karen and Sons, Tim and Pat—Their Father was a great man!”