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IU looking into Knight, student confrontation

Freshman says basketball coach cursed and twisted his arm. Bob Knight denies it, saying he was lecturing teen about manners.

Indiana coach Bob Knight called an accusation that he cursed at a student "completely inaccurate," saying he simply gave the teenager a lecture about manners while holding his arm.

Nonetheless, the school is investigating the confrontation and considers the matter "extraordinarily serious," university spokesman Christopher Simpson said Friday.

Knight has been under scrutiny since he was accused of choking a player during a 1997 practice, and he was told in May he would be fired if he didn't adhere to a "zero tolerance" policy imposed by the university.

"I would have to be an absolute moron _ an absolute moron _ with the things that have been laid on me to grab a kid in public, or curse a kid in public, as apparently it's been said that I did," Knight said at a news conference.

The stepfather of Kent Harvey said Knight confronted the freshman Thursday at Assembly Hall after the 19-year-old greeted him with, "Hey, what's up, Knight?" The student was picking up football tickets at the building, which also houses the basketball arena.

Knight said the confrontation occurred as he and the student crossed through a doorway. The coach diagrammed on a blackboard at the news conference how their paths crossed and then re-enacted the encounter with assistant coach Mike Davis, showing how he briefly held the student's arm.

Knight said he had his hand on the inside of the young man's arm as he addressed him, but said the accusations of any pulling or spinning of the student were false.

"I said, "Son, my name is not Knight to you. It's Coach Knight or it's Mr. Knight. I don't call people by their last name, and neither should you,' " Knight said.

"This was simply a matter of manners and civility. I don't think my voice ever rose above a conversational tone. That is what happened and that's entirely what happened and any deviation from that is absolutely inaccurate _ completely inaccurate."

Knight also called it an "interesting coincidence" that the student was a stepson "of a guy who over the years has probably been the most vitriolic critic I've had."

The stepfather, Mark Shaw, a former Bloomington radio talk-show host and critic of Knight, said Knight took the teen by the arm and whirled him around.

"Kent was so shocked he couldn't tell me exactly what Knight said," Shaw said.

Shaw said he later could see the imprint of Knight's fingernails where they broke the skin of Harvey's arm.

Shaw complained to Simpson about the confrontation.

"I don't care if we're talking about Bob Knight, the president of the United States or some guy off the street. That kind of conduct is not tolerated," he said. "My stepson was shocked and intimidated by Knight."

Shaw also said Kent and the four witnesses had only been IU students for about 10 days.

"This isn't some disgruntled athlete," Shaw said. "He has no ax to grind."

Harvey said he addressed Knight "on the spur of a moment" as they were passing each other.

"I called him by his last name and he blew up," he said in an interview with WRTV-TV in Indianapolis. "I froze. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do."

With Harvey were two brothers _ Kyle and Kevin Harvey _ and two friends.

Kyle Harvey told the television station he first thought Knight was joking with his brother.

"But he was serious and he was in Kent's face," he said.

Davis, who saw the confrontation, said there was no violence and no profanity from Knight. "He never said a curse word, he never raised his voice," Davis said.

Davis said the report on the confrontation "was a flat-out lie."

"I told the police that if they give everybody (the student and his companions) a lie-detector test, I guarantee they'll fail," Davis said.

University police said Kent Harvey and witnesses to the incident were interviewed Friday.

"They are continuing the investigation," Simpson said. "As soon as it's complete, we'll get the results and we'll move on from there."

Police offered no time table for a resolution. "There's no imminent danger to anybody," Lt. Jerry Minger of the campus police said. "This could take a while."

The earlier actions were taken after a seven-week investigation by the school's board of trustees concluded that Knight had displayed a "pattern of inappropriate behavior" that had embarrassed the university. Among other accusations investigated by the trustees was that the often-volatile Knight had once hurled a vase near a school secretary during a fit of anger.

The university suspended him for three games and fined him $30,000. The school also said the coach has to follow a supervised code of conduct, which it has yet to fully detail, and will be fired immediately if he violates it or has physical contact with any player or university employee.