Knight dismisses idea players flee IU
(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A few weeks ago, false rumors spread through Indiana University campus about players leaving, showing an erroneous belief exists that team members frequently leave the IU men's basketball program.
When a player does leave Bloomington, critics immediately jump on the "IU loses more players than any other school" bandwagon.
Yet most of these critics fail to report IU's average is comparable among all Big Ten schools. The IU dropout rate includes former players such as Rick Calloway, who transferred to Kansas; Isiah Thomas, who jumped to the NBA; Michael Herman, who flunked out of school; and Sherron Wilkerson, who was kicked off the team for abusing his girlfriend.
From 1975 to 1996, 29 players left the program, for a dropout rate of 36.3 percent. That number sits just above the Big Ten average of 34.5 percent.
Of those players who stay, only two four-year scholarship athletes in Knight's 27 seasons have not graduated. According to the NCAA, 79 percent of players who have entered IU between 1987 through 1990 have graduated. The national graduation rate during that time period was 44 percent.
Despite these statistics, every time a player leaves IU for any reason, critics accuse Knight of losing more players than most schools. This false rumor surfaced again in December when Jason Collier transferred to Georgia Tech.
As critics bashed Knight, several Big Ten coaches, including Purdue coach Gene Keady, quickly came to the General's defense.
"If a kid is unhappy, he's a cancer," Keady said. "I'm not saying Collier was, but we've had kids like that who were really unhappy and caused a lot of disruption in the team's rhythm."
Without a doubt, losing the team's second-leading scorer leaves a considerable hole to fill. IU responded, moving senior Andrae Patterson to center, where he averaged 11.8 points a game - about Collier's production level when he transferred. Collier, who was named Ohio Mr. Basketball in 1996, considered leaving at the end the 1997 season but decided to see if anything would change the next fall.
"What if I say when we recruit Collier, we're gonna take him for a semester and see whether we like him or not," Knight said. "Whether it's Collier or who it is, we've made a commitment to the guy that we're gonna work like hell to see that he becomes the best player possible.
"Apparently, he did not like the way we went about it. That's fine. But don't stay here and create all the problems for us that we have had through the next semester.
Collier, who will most likely play forward next fall at Georgia Tech, said he and Knight had different perceptions on the way he should play.
"We had contradicting views," Collier said. "When he told me to do something, I tried to the best of my ability. It just didn't work between us."
Knight wishes Collier would have left the program earlier.
"The only thing I regret about Collier leaving is that he didn't quit in April. If he quit in April like he should have, then we spend all summer and all fall working with Patterson. Maybe we don't redshirt (Kirk) Haston. I don't go a day where I say, 'If I had just known (sophomore center Larry) Richardson had to play or that Patterson was to be our center,"