MHERST - Despite the protestations of University of Massachusetts Athletic Director Bob Marcum, the rumors that he plans to hire Bobby Knight to coach the UMass men's basketball team aren't going away. (See reports on the last batch of Knight rumors)
Boston sports talk station WEEI reported Thursday that the former Indiana coach was on the UMass campus Thursday, causing a rush of phone calls to Marcum's office and the school's sports media relations office.
Marcum dismissed the report. "If he was on campus, it was to enroll in school," Marcum said.
He and current Minuteman coach Bruiser Flint, who has a year left on his contract, joked about the report at Flint's weekly coaches' radio show at the Monkey Bar in Amherst.
"Hey Bob, why didn't you bring him up to see the offices?" Flint said. Coincidentally, a muted TV screen in front of Marcum at the Monkey Bar showed old footage of Knight.
Marcum said he had no idea where the rumors originated.
"We got all those calls from Boston people," Marcum said. "I have no idea where we get them. We've never conducted our business that way."
Thursday's rumors came after the Lowell Sun reported earlier in the week that Knight was interested in the UMass position, should it open.
Citing sources close to Knight's son Pat, an assistant at Akron, the Sun reported that Knight was interested in UMass, but had not been contacted by the school.
MHERST — Some people report Elvis or Bigfoot sightings. University of Massachusetts men's basketball followers prefer Bob Knight sightings.
A caller to a Boston sports talk show yesterday provoked a flurry of calls to the UMass athletic department, after the anonymous caller had said he'd seen Knight on the UMass campus recently.
No way, UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said yesterday.
"No, he's not here, and he hasn't been here, unless he's here to enroll," Marcum said. "If you see him, tell him I said, 'Hi.'"
This is the second "Knight sighting" at UMass. In December, a source told the Union-News that two UMass fans had reported seeing the former Indiana coach with Marcum on campus in November.
In February, after Boston and Philadelphia media also reported the Knight-to-UMass rumors, Marcum flatly denied ever having contact with Knight.
The status of Bruiser Flint at UMass has not been determined, and Marcum says he won't make comments or complete his review until the season is over. Meanwhile, Flint has been trying to coach the team while rumors swirl around it. It hasn't made Flint's job of preparing the team for next week's Atlantic 10 tournament, and possibly the NCAA tournament or NIT, any easier. Flint has one year left on his contract.
Knight's availability and professed interest in coaching again has made him a hot topic in coaching rumors. He has not publicly spoken about any job in particular, though Rhode Island contacted him, was reportedly turned down but has not officially removed him from consideration.
The Rhode Island job is open because coach Jerry DeGregorio announced Feb. 12 he would not be back in 2001-02.