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Students rally for Knight

Basketball players say they want to stay.

They were Knight's army, marching from Assembly Hall to the home of the Indiana University president who had fired the basketball coach.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho. Myles Brand has got to go," some students chanted.

"Burn in hell, Brand," read a banner hanging from a balcony.

Someone ignited an effigy of Kent Harvey, the freshman whose Thursday run-in with Knight at Assembly Hall triggered a weekend of news conferences, investigations and meetings that ended with Bob Knight's dismissal.

Harvey and his two brothers also have been threatened by e-mail and telephone, said their stepfather, Mark Shaw.

The news of Sunday's firing brought students to the arena where banners celebrate Knight's three national championships. They cursed Brand. Then, thousands strong, they marched about a half-mile to the president's home at the heart of the campus while police in riot gear stood watch.

Within the hour of Brand's announcement, car horns blared and chants of "We love Bobby" echoed off the limestone walls of the campus.

James Turner, 21, a senior from Fort Wayne, grabbed a bullhorn outside Assembly Hall. "I was born in the state of Indiana, I've lived here all my life, and I don't ever want to be anywhere else. But today I'm ashamed to call myself a Hoosier," Turner said, bringing loud applause from the crowd.

Andrea Osman held up a red university flag on which she scrawled: "The spineless political institution of the year."

"I believe Indiana University as an institution caved in to pressure from the outside world, specifically the media, instead of doing what's best for the IU community," she said.

Moments earlier, someone ignited a pile of red and white Indiana apparel in the arena's parking lot. A police officer moved in with a fire extinguisher. Security guards videotaped the action.

All 12 of Knight's players attended Sunday's news conference at which Brand announced the firing. Some hung their heads while others glared at the dozens of reporters fixed on Brand's words. A couple wiped away tears.

"We realize that IU is a great university, but we came here to play for coach Knight," junior forward Tom Geyer said. "Right now, you just have to consider what all your options are."

Freshman Jared Jeffries, one of the nation's top high school prospects last season, said he came to Indiana because of Knight and believed the coach wasn't given a fair chance.

"It's tough to see. You want to see all great men go out on top," Jeffries said.

Guard Dane Fife said the players hope to stay together and win a championship for Knight this season.

Players later told reporters they would stay together through the upcoming season if assistants Mike Davis and John Treloar continue to coach the team.

They also want a say on the new coach, said Geyer, one of Knight's strongest supporters on the team.

The university would consider the players' input, but "you have to be open-minded and do what is best for the institution," athletic director Clarence Doninger said.

"Obviously, the team can't call the shots, but we want their input."

Before the news conference, Brand informed Gov. Frank O'Bannon of his decision to fire Knight.

"I have known Bob Knight for many years and am personally saddened by this outcome and the chain of events that led to it," O'Bannon said. "Nonetheless, I am confident that IU's action today is in the best interest of the university, and I fully support its decision."

Steve Alford, the star of Knight's 1987 championship team and now the coach at Big Ten rival Iowa, said Bloomington would not be the same for him.

"I have always seen Indiana University and Coach Knight as one in the same," Alford said.

Meantime, the stepfather of the boys involved in the run-in with Knight said all three teens were on campus Sunday and wanted to stay at the school. University officials have said they would do whatever they could to ensure they are safe.

"They don't have anything to hide from. They told the truth," Shaw said.

Shaw, a former Bloomington-area radio talk-show host and Knight critic, complained to the university about Knight's behavior. He said he and his stepsons expected only an apology.

The Harvey brothers aren't the first of Knight's critics to feel the wrath of the coach's supporters. Death threats drove English professor Murray Sperber to take leave for a year in his hometown of Montreal.

Sperber criticized both Knight and the university's handling of the coach earlier this year during an investigation into accusations that Knight choked former player Neil Reed during a 1997 practice.

More than 160 IU professors called on Brand to take a stronger stand in support of free speech and academic freedom after Sperber left campus.

Sperber planned to return to Indiana in January, but not to teach. Now that Knight has been fired, he hopes to resume teaching, he said Sunday.

"No person, a coach or anyone else, is bigger than the university," Sperber said. "And finally the trustees are biting the bullet on this and putting the good of the institution ahead of a basketball coach.

"I look forward to the day when I see Indiana University in the news about an educational endeavor, a great school of music, or business, or something. It's long overdue, very long overdue, frankly."

"In the end, Bob Knight's attitude was just no longer tolerable."


Indiana trustee

"As a former student-athlete at Indiana and former player for Coach Knight, it saddens me to see one of the greatest eras of college basketball end this way.


Iowa basketball coach

"It's awfully hard to live under the guidelines that the university gave him. I'm not really sure that I could live by those guidelines."


Indiana basketball player

"I idolize Bob Knight. He loves us and we love him."


Indiana basketball player

"In this latest situation, I smell a rat. Isn't it ironic that the kid's dad is a lawyer who has been ripping Bob for five years."


Michigan State basketball coach

"I was born in the state of Indiana, I've lived here all my life, and I don't ever want to be anywhere else. But today I'm ashamed to call myself a Hoosier."


Indiana senior