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Fired Knight still burning to "teach'

The ousted Indiana basketball coach talks about his firing, future in two interviews.

Bob Knight wants to coach again "in the worst way." He's just not sure where.

Knight, fired by Indiana for a pattern of "unacceptable" behavior, said Tuesday he was surprised by the school's decision but perhaps it was time to move on.

"I thought I'd stay here till I was done coaching," Knight said in a sometimes contentious interview on ESPN.

"I haven't retired. I'm an unemployed teacher right now, and I'm looking for a place to teach. There are too many things that I have yet to explore about the game of basketball."

Knight said he had thought about leaving Indiana at times but his love of the basketball team was too strong. He had wanted the Hoosiers, who haven't advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 1994, to become a powerhouse again.

"I kind of hung on to that thought for several years now, four or five years, and probably should've gone somewhere else," he said. "And there would be somebody that was a better fit for this administration and these people than I am. And there's a place for me where there's a better fit for me as a basketball coach."

In interviews on ESPN and in the Sporting News, the 59-year-old Hall of Fame coach spoke about his future and his dismissal Sunday from a school where he won three national titles in three decades. Knight said he might accept an offer to help Isiah Thomas, the former Hoosiers star now coaching the Indiana Pacers.

Knight repeated that he did nothing wrong when he grabbed freshman Kent Harvey by the arm last week to give him a lecture about manners after the student said, "Hey, what's up, Knight?" The coach also disputed other reasons university president Myles Brand cited in firing him.

Brand said Knight violated a zero-tolerance policy that had been in place since May. But Knight said he was never told what "zero tolerance" meant.

University officials said they stood by Brand's statements.

"I certainly think he did have a chance," school trustee Stephen Backer said. "In fact, his job was saved by this administration in May, and they gave him another chance, a new lease on life. It appears, from his own interview, that he was angry and resentful, and instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, he failed to do so."

Knight said he was most sorry to be leaving Bloomington because of all the golf, hunting and fishing in the area.

"We're going to move," Knight said, referring to his wife, Karen. "And that'll be difficult. I've been here since 1971, and I really like the area. I can play golf. I can catch 50 bluegill in an hour. I can go turkey hunting. The place has fit my lifestyle. Now that's all wiped out, and I feel worse about that than not having the coaching job."

Knight often chastised ESPN interviewer Jeremy Schaap for what he considered interruptions as he answered questions. At one point he told Schaap, son of veteran sports writer and broadcaster Dick Schaap: "You got a long way to go to be as good as your dad. You better keep that in mind."

Knight, replaced Tuesday by Indiana assistant Mike Davis, said getting another coaching job is a priority.

"People have called me. That's all I want to do. I want to coach in the worst way," Knight said. "I'm not right for every administration, and every administration's not right for me."

In July he was contacted by Delaware about recommendations for its head coaching job. Later, Knight said, he thought he perhaps should have asked about the job for himself. (The school hired David Henderson, who was a Duke assistant.)

"There was a time when I would never have dreamed that I'd coach anywhere but Indiana University, but things have changed," Knight told the Sporting News. "The leadership of this university has changed. My inability to get along with the athletic director _ all that. I began to think, "I've been here a long time.' "