EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – While often polarizing, there is no doubt that the legend of coach Bob Knight lives on in the Hoosier state, evident by the reaction from IU alumni like Nicholas Dus, president of Evansville’s chapter of the IU Alumni Association.
“I was kind of sad,” says Dus. “It was one of those things where you knew he was still around, but didn’t really hit you until you actually heard the news that he was gone.”
Dus grew up a diehard Hoosier fan and joined a long line of relatives before him as IU graduates. His home office is decorated with the cream and crimson, but one item holds a deeper meaning: a letter Dus wrote to coach Knight when he was just 11 years old. To his surprise, he would later receive a reply.
“What he did was he actually signed the letter I sent him and it says, ‘Nick, thanks for being a Hoosier fan. Best wishes, Bob Knight’. I thought that was really neat that he took the time to not only read the letter, but actually sign it and then mail that letter back,” says Dus.
Vanderburgh County Superior Court Judge Les Shively also has memories of coach Knight. In 1975, Shively was the first student appointed to the IU Board of Trustees, allowing him to spend an entire season on the road with friends Jim Crews and Steve Green, as well as the rest of the eventual 1976 national champions.
“One night we were out playing flag football,” recalls Shively, “and Jimmy Crews was the quarterback of our team, and coach Knight drove by and saw him out there. Coach stopped his car and got out, grabbed Crews, and the last I saw of Jimmy that whole day.”
But like Dus, Shively also recalls a more humble side of Knight, including a surprise visit during a varsity club dinner in Evansville. Shively says that event was to be headlined by another iconic IU coach, Lee Corso, but Corso was unable to attend. That is when Knight arrived unannounced and said he was filling in for coach Corso.
“There definitely was a, believe it or not, humble and very sensitive side to him,” says Shively, “and I saw it that evening.”
Dus adds, “When you think of basketball in Indiana, I think he’s one of the first people you think of. So, he really represents, I think, Hoosier basketball in this state.”