LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech coach Bob Knight, the all-time winningest Division I men’s basketball coach known as much for his brilliance as his fiery temper, resigned Monday in the middle of the season.
The program will be turned over to his son, Pat Knight, who was named head coach-designate in 2005.
“There’s a transition that’s going to take place here from me to Pat and I’ve dwelt on this all year long — about what would be the best way to do this, and how it would be best for him and for the team and for what we can do in the long run to make this the best thing for Texas Tech,” Knight said, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I didn’t know, I’ve never really known when I was going to step down from this job. As I thought about it, my first thought was at the end of this season.”
Knight reconsidered, however, after a conversation with legendary college coach Pete Newell on Sunday.
“My thinking was that for Pat and for this team — most of which is returning next year — the best thing for the long run for this team would be for Pat and his staff to coach these remaining 10 games,” Knight said, according to the paper. “And [to] get an understanding, get a real feel for each other, be able to think over the course of the spring and summer going into next season about how people had played, how things had been done offensively or defensively, what could be done or couldn’t be done, what to stay away from, what to work on and develop that from a game standpoint as the coach in charge of everything rather than as an assistant coach.
“It was always a problem for me as to just what would be the most effective way in this transition, to make this transition. And with all the thought that I put into it, that’s exactly how I felt that it should be.”
While he talked about the most effective transition, Knight did not indicate why he wanted to step away from coaching.
“He said he was tired and that it was best to go ahead and do it now,” Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance told The Associated Press. “I think Bob is through with coaching. I think he got to the point where it wasn’t fun for him.”
Knight’s resignation was first reported by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Chris Cook, a spokesman for athletic director Gerald Myers, later confirmed the resignation.
Knight informed Myers of his decision in a meeting around noon, Hance said. Knight then informed Hance of his decision in a 10-minute phone call.
Knight spent Sunday deciding whether to quit, one day after his Red Raiders beat Oklahoma State 67-60 in what now appears to be Knight’s 902nd and final win.
“He thought about it Sunday all day and talked to his wife and decided this is something I want to do,” Hance said.
Knight was not available for comment Monday, said Randy Farley, a spokesman for the Texas Tech basketball program.
“Coach Knight has had a great career. His coaching record speaks for itself. His love for basketball is clear, but most importantly his love for teaching and the students has been a hallmark of his tenure here at Texas Tech,” said Sally Logue Post, a spokeswoman for Texas Tech.
The 67-year-old Knight has been a head coach for 42 years at three Division I schools. He got his 100th victory at Army, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 and won three national championships from 1971-2000.
His first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no team has done since. In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles.
“He’s accomplished everything he can accomplish,” a source close to the coaching staff told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. “He was going to do this at the end of this year anyway. I’m sure he’s talked to a lot of people before he made this decision. This is a situation where he’s letting Pat have the rest of this year so he has experience coaching the team rather than starting fresh.”
Knight, a brainy coach with an often prickly personality, came to Texas Tech in March 2001, six months after being fired by Indiana for what school officials there called a “pattern of unacceptable behavior.”
He began his coaching career in 1965 at Army, where at 24 he was the youngest-ever Division I coach.
Knight won 20 or more games in 29 seasons at the three schools. Texas Tech is 12-8 this season and 3-3 in the Big 12. The Red Raiders’ next game is Wednesday night at Baylor.
In his first six years in West Texas, Knight led the Red Raiders to five 20-plus win seasons, a feat never before done at the school. He replaced former North Carolina coach Dean Smith as the winningest Division I coach Jan. 1, 2007, getting career win No. 880.
To celebrate the 880 milestone Knight chose “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, a mantra for how he navigated his personal and professional worlds.
“Bob is kind of a funny guy. He always loved that song ‘My Way,’ and this is another example,” Hance said.
On Jan. 16, Knight crossed the 900-win mark, beating then-No. 10 Texas A&M to become the only men’s coach to reach the milestone.
“It’s not like he’s going to disappear,” the source in the organization told Katz. “He said he’ll still be around and will help us with recruiting whenever a kid comes on campus.”