Tales of the H-T: Stories taken from or inspired by material in the Herald-Times archive at the
Monroe County History Center.
By Rod Spaw
The image is surreal. The figure of a woman, blonde and tan, floats on a sea of bobbing heads against a green backdrop. She is wearing bikini bottoms and a white T-shirt with a large red heart drawn upon it.
Upon closer inspection, what at first seems like a mirage is more likely a life-size cutout of “Baywatch” actress Pamela Anderson being hoisted above a mass of humanity by unseen hands. Zooming in on the T-shirt reveals its complete message: “I (heart) Bobby.”
The place is Dunn Meadow. The date is Sept. 13, 2000. It is Bobby Knight’s farewell appearance three days after he was fired as coach of the IU men’s basketball team.
Behind the camera is Jeremy Hogan, who that week has made hundreds of photographs on the Bloomington campus for the Herald-Times newspaper. This one is unlike all the others, but it also is representative in a way. It has been one long, strange trip for the young man from California who until that time had not been exposed to the full passion of Hoosier Nation.
“That photo looks like maybe a lighter moment in what was a tough period in the history of IU basketball,” Hogan said recently. “But I honestly don’t remember making that photo.”
What he does recall is the ferocity of support for the beleaguered coach who was fired on Sept. 10, 2000, by IU President Myles Brand for violating the terms of a “zero-tolerance policy” set for his continued employment. It was the last act in a drama that had been unfolding for months around Knight’s pattern of behavior during 29 years as the IU head coach.
Hogan, a 1997 graduate of San Jose State University, had worked at the H-T only for a couple of years. He hadn’t photographed IU basketball to any extent, and although aware of the coach’s famous volatility – and great popularity — it was not something he had given much thought.
“IU basketball wasn’t really on my radar not being from here,” said Hogan, who worked for the H-T until 2019, and now runs the independent Bloomingtonian news website. “I could see that fans were really into it. It was a real subculture of American sports, or as some said, a religion.”
When news of Knight’s dismissal hit campus, people began to march, and Hogan followed, taking photographs all along the way. The H-T later estimated that 2,000 protestors – mostly students – took to the streets that day. They marched to the President’s House and burned a dummy in effigy; they waded into Showalter Fountain and removed the dolphin sculptures; they marched into Memorial Stadium and toppled the south end zone goal posts. They stood in front of Assembly Hall until Knight emerged sometime after midnight on Sept. 11 and asked them to go home. More than 200 IU, Bloomington, Ellettsville and Indiana State Police were on hand to watch them.
“I grew up in Southern California during the ‘Showtime Era’ of the Los Angeles Lakers, and that team was run so professionally,” Hogan said. “I never heard of Pat Riley throwing a chair or choking anybody. So coming from mellow Southern California, the IU fans were from another planet.”
For Hogan, it was a “really weird” introduction to IU basketball.
“I mean, these kids were basically rioting over a coach, and I hadn’t seen that many Indiana State Police since I photographed a riot at a Grateful Dead show in 1995 while interning for the Indianapolis News,” he said.
Knight had promised supporters outside of Assembly Hall that he would meet with them again in a few days. He did so on Sept. 13 in Dunn Meadow. The Indiana Daily Student newspaper sponsored the appearance, which drew thousands of IU fans who came to hear their coach and to cheer him one last time. Hogan was present, too, documenting the event with his cameras, even if one person in the crowd didn’t appreciate it.
“I do remember covering Bob Knight a few days after he was fired in Dunn Meadow, and a man threatened to ‘put my cameras in the mud’ over and over while standing behind me. I finally turned around and told him that the gear didn’t belong to the newspaper, it belonged to me. I had to buy my own gear, and if he touched my gear, I was going to put him in the mud,” Hogan recalled.
Knight’s farewell lasted about 20 minutes, according to the H-T’s coverage the next day. The coach thanked students for their support over the years and asked that they continue to support the basketball team. He praised IU as a great university, with many more good people than those “who have an agenda that doesn’t include students.”
Then, with a wave of his hand, Knight turned and walked into IU history, the moment captured forever with a click of Jeremy Hogan’s camera.