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On This Date in Sports February 23, 1985: Have a Seat

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Frustration and tempers boil over for Indiana Coach Bobby Knight as he tosses a chair across the floor during a 72-63 loss to rival Purdue. Coming off a season in which the Hoosiers made it to the Elite Eight, big things were expected in Bloomington. However, the team struggled in Big Ten play. Because of the incident, Knight is ejected and handed a one-game suspension.

Robert Montgomery Knight was born October 25, 1940, in Massillon, Ohio. An admirer of General George S. Patton and Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes, Bobby Knight got his first coaching job at the Army, starting as an assistant in 1963 and becoming the head coach at West Point in 1965. As a player, he was a reserve on the 1960 Ohio State team that won the NCAA Tournament and was still there as they were runners up in 1961 and 1962.

Coaching at the Army, Bobby Knight had moderate success, taking the Black Knights to the NIT four times in five years. Among the players he coached at West Point was Mike Krzyzewski. After his six-year stint at West Point, Bobby Knight took over at Indiana in 1971. Knight’s Hoosiers went to the Final Four in his second season. In 1976, Indiana won the National Championship, completing an unbeaten 32-0 season. Indiana won the NCAA Tournament again in 1981, as Bobby Knight became one of the most respected coaches in the college game.

While Bobby Knight was regarded as one of the best coaches in the game, his often-volatile temper began to overshadow his success as the changing landscape of sports started looking less favorably on coaches that were as strict on his players while often displaying outrageous behavior himself. This includes incidents where he got physical with players, struck a cop in Puerto Rico during the 1979 Pan-Am Games, and allegedly shoved a fan into a garbage can in 1981.

After a trip to the Elite Eight in 1984, Indiana was expected again to be one of the top teams in the NCAA. With their place in the NCAA Tournament less than secure, Indiana went into a home game against Purdue, holding a 6-7 conference record and 14-9 overall, having lost their last two. The Hoosiers played well early, starting 9-2 before they got into the guts of the Big Ten Schedule. The frustrations of Indiana’s struggles got the best of Bobby Knight as he was called for a technical foul early in the first half. As Steve Reid prepared to take the foul shot, Knight grabbed a plastic chair and hurled it across the floor. As a result, Bobby Knight was hit with a double technical and ejected. Indiana lost the game at Assembly Hall 72-63.

Bobby Knight was put on probation and given a one-game suspension following the chair-tossing incident. In subsequent years, Knight would joke about the chair-throwing incident saying he did it because an old lady was looking for a seat. Indiana finished the season at 15-13 and missed the NCAA Tournament, though they had a solid run for the final of the NIT.