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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Newly retired Bob Knight hired as analyst by ESPN for upcoming NCAA tournament

Friday, February 29, 2008

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) -- College basketball fans flipping channels back when Bob Knight was coaching couldn't resist stopping when they spied one of his interviews or news conferences. Nobody wanted to miss what he might say or do.

ESPN executives figure nothing will change with the Hall of Famer switching careers. The network announced Thursday that Knight will appear as a guest studio analyst leading up to and during the NCAA tournament.

"The information, the entertainment, the sophistication, the knowledge he brings about basketball and issues surrounding basketball -- add that to how compelling an individual he is, and it made perfect sense for us to put him on our platforms," said Norby Williamson, ESPN's executive vice president for production.

Even before Knight resigned from Texas Tech on Feb. 4, ESPN officials were intrigued by the possibility of someday hiring him, Williamson said. The winningest coach in Division I men's college basketball with 902 victories, Knight captured three national championships at Indiana.

He's just as well known for his fiery temper, which got him in trouble on and off the court. Knight blew up at many reporters over the years, including in a couple of ESPN interviews. Now he's a member of the media himself.

"I think ESPN has been real good for college basketball and I look forward to working with some of their people who I have known a long time," Knight said in a statement.

Williamson said Knight's relationships with ESPN commentators such as Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps helped make him comfortable with the idea of joining the network. This isn't just a few token appearances; Knight will work a packed schedule for ESPN. He's the type of person who wouldn't do it any other way, Williamson said.

Knight is scheduled to begin his new job March 12 during the conference tournaments. He'll provide commentary on Selection Sunday and through the early rounds of the NCAAs, then travel to San Antonio to offer analysis during the Final Four.

ESPN would love to keep Knight as an analyst beyond this season, Williamson said. He expected that Knight would make a decision based on how his initial experience goes.

Even for the most charismatic coaches and athletes, letting their personalities shine through as a TV commentator can be a challenge at first.

"It always comes back to ... how comfortable they are being themselves. One of the things Bob Knight has demonstrated is he'll be himself," Williamson said. "He's going to have an unbelievable, unmatched work ethic, do his homework and be surrounded by people he's comfortable with.

"We're in a very good position for him to succeed."



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