Knight’s family made the announcement Wednesday night. He was hospitalized with an illness in April and had been in poor health for several years.
Knight was a legendary figure in college basketball. His record earned many admirers and nicknames. To his fans, he was called “the General.” Knight was one of the United States’ winningest college coaches, with more than 900 wins by the end of his career.
Knight became the youngest coach at a Division I school in 1965 when he broke in at the Army at 24. But he made his mark at Indiana, including winning a school-record 661 games and reaching the NCAA tournament 24 times in 29 seasons. Knight’s first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no team has accomplished since.
Remembering The Legend Bobby Knight
He was born Robert Montgomery Knight on Oct. 25, 1940, in Massillon, Ohio, and he grew up in Orrville — both small towns about 20 to 30 miles outside Akron. Knight played basketball in high school and college; he played for Ohio State University under eventual Hall of Fame coach Fred Taylor when the Buckeyes won the NCAA championship in 1960.
Knight’s own head coaching career began at West Point. At age 24, he was the youngest varsity coach in NCAA history. In 1971, Indiana University hired him, and he worked there for 29 years.
Knight was noted for his disciplined, hard-nosed approach and for teaching the team his motion offense — a game philosophy where players reacted to the defense, set screens, and passed the ball until a teammate was open, instead of relying on set plays.
Knight coached Indiana to three NCAA championships — in 1976, 1981, and 1987. The team won one NIT championship in 1979 and 11 Big Ten Conference championships. In addition to his college coaching, Knight was the leader of the U.S. teams that won gold medals at the 1979 Pan American Games and the 1984 Olympics. As a result of all those wins, he received numerous awards, including National Coach of the Year four times.
In 1991, Knight was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. During his speech, Knight said his accomplishments were not his doing alone, and he credited the work of his assistant coaches and basketball players.
“I’ve never felt comfortable with the award ‘Coach of the Year’ or coach of anything,” said Knight. “I think there’s a much more appropriate nomenclature that could be used, and that would be ‘Team of the Year.'”
Later, in 2006, Knight was also inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.