Bobby Knight was the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, He was put on probation and ultimately dismissed because of his actions against one of the players he coached, Neil Reed. Neil claimed that he had been choked by the coach at a practice, and although it was denied by Knight, there was some footage that proved this course of events. The president of Indiana University, Myles Brand, stated that he had a zero-tolerance policy for this type of violence, and asked Coach Knight to resign (Brennan, 2014). When Knight refused, Brand dismissed Knight immediately, an action that angered students at the university. There have been several related incidents that show Knight being aggressive or shouting expletives, which support the theory that Knight was guilty of choking one of his players in anger. This paper will explore some of the reasons that the University took action in the context of Knight with respect to his employment contract (Brennan, 2014).
The University took the action that it did in order to protect its players. The University has a duty to ensure the safety of its students and athletes, and having a coach that does not follow these rules means that it is knowingly putting its students in danger. Although at first there was no proof that Knight was guilty of this action, the later video tape showed physical proof that Knight had put his hand on a player’s throat. Knight also had a history of being aggressive and swearing, with many of these accusations coming out after the original controversy. The University stated that it had a zero-tolerance policy, which relates to this need to protect the Indiana basketball team from a coach that is not acting in their best interests. Additionally, violence should not be tolerated on a university campus.
Agency law allows for an individual to be contracted to work on behalf of a business or organization. In this case, Knight was working on behalf of the University, and conducting business in their name. As such, Indiana University needs to protect their name and reputation by not employing individuals that act in this way. By continuing to employ Knight, the university was also potentially liable to be sued by the athletes for not firing him when they knew about his anger issues. Although Knight has the right to appeal the dismissal, in this context his actions likely violated his employment contract and meant that his dismissal was fair and legal. Overall, firing Knight was acting in the best interests of both the students and the athletes – a head coach cannot expect to be allowed to act this way, even if he is leading the team to success.
It is also important to consider the Christian approach to employer/employee relationships. The Christian approach would be to hear Knight speak and give a defense of his actions, or to deny them. This will give both sides an opportunity to speak, as listening is an important Christian quality. In this case, I think the most Christian approach was to fire Knight because violence is not tolerated in Christianity. The university acted in the most Christian way that it could in the face of the evidence about Knight and the testimonials from the athletes and students. Although Knight was popular amongst the student body (Doyel, 2016), this is no reason to but the athletes in danger from his aggression and anger issues. It would also be a Christian approach to think about forgiving Knight at some point in the future if he shows remorse and understands the consequences of his actions.
- Brennan, Eamonn. “What If Bob Knight Hadn’t Been Fired?” ESPN 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
- Doyel, Gregg. “Doyel: Will We Ever Get over Bob Knight?” IndyStar 1 Dec. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.