After a Feb. 23 loss to Colorado, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said he had proved he could coach, and he would either coach in Lubbock or coach somewhere else.
Odds are he will coach somewhere else next season.
On Monday morning, Texas Tech announced it was relieving the 40-year-old men’s basketball coach of his position effective at the end of the season.
The university released a statement Monday morning from Tech President Guy Bailey in which he said it was time to make a switch.
“I felt like it was time to make a change within our men’s basketball program,” Bailey said in the release. “I appreciate everything Pat has done for our university, not only as a head coach, but also throughout his career as an assistant. I wish him success and the best moving forward.”
Bailey did not immediately return messages left with both his office and cell phone.
Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said Knight will coach the Red Raiders through the Big 12 Conference Championships and any additional postseason play.
The Red Raiders finished the regular season with an overall record of 13-18 and a 5-11 Big 12 record.
“Well, you know, when you’re having a losing year and attendance is down, it’s just a tough situation, and a decision was made to make a change,” Myers said.
Knight said he met with Bailey this morning to get the issue out in the open. The two met at around 9 a.m. on a visit scheduled by Myers.
“The issue’s been hanging over the program for the last couple weeks, especially from the national media standpoint, and I didn’t want that anymore,” Knight told The Daily Toreador following his weekly radio show. “You know, if a decision’s been made let’s get it out there. The players can relax, my assistants can relax, I can relax, it’s pretty simple, you know? And I just think it’s best for the program overall.”
Knight said his firing was a “business decision,” and he completely understands it. He said he realizes a big part of the decision for the university to part ways with him is the performance of this year’s team, especially considering how high the hopes were for the team after last year’s NIT-quarterfinal finish.
“I know how this business works,” he said. “Of course I would love to stay another year and prove myself, but it’s just not going to happen … but that’s coaching. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but, you know, again that’s what we’re paid for, and that’s what we expect.
“It’s not like I’m goin’ into this blind, you know, I’ve said you can’t feel sorry for coaches.”
No players were available during the team’s normal media availability before practice Monday afternoon.
Several players walking into the arena for practice declined to comment since they were unsure whether they were allowed to speak with members of the media.
The change comes after the Red Raiders logged a fourth consecutive Big 12 losing season, third under the full-time tutelage of Knight. The Indiana graduate took the reins of the program midway through the 2007-2008 season for his father, hall of fame coach Bob Knight.
Pat Knight was named the head coach designate before the 2005-2006 season, after serving as a Tech assistant since 2001.
Former Tech player Alan Voskuil, who played for the Red Raiders from Fall 2005 to Spring 2009, said he was shocked when he found out, but he understands why the decision was made.
“I know basketball is a business, so if you don’t perform well there’s going to be repercussions to your performances,” Voskuil said via Skype.
Voskuil, who is now playing professionally in Denmark, said Pat Knight will find another coaching job, perhaps one he can fit into better than the job at Tech.
“I just think he kind of came into a sketchy little situation … trying to take the players that his father coached and turn them into the players that he wants,” he said. “So, when I first started, I learned for two-and-a-half years what his father wanted and then had to switch it for a year-and-a-half when Pat took over.”
Pat Knight ran the motion offense and man-to-man defense — just like his father. Voskuil said each coach’s style was different, but Pat Knight ran his practice like any other Division I coach would.
“He coached me pretty well, made me understand a different side of the game rather than just his father's side,” Voskuil said.
Now that Pat Knight’s time is officially numbered at Tech, Pat Knight said he firmly plans to stay in the coaching game and not take any time off. Knight said he already has been contacted by a program gauging interest.
“When I come back I plan to be busy just trying to interview with some places and see where I go from there,” Knight said. “You know, hopefully there’s a good gig, you just can’t take anything, but I’m not one of those guys who wants to take a year off. So hopefully there’s a good fit out there, and if I like it I’m gonna take it.”
-Managing Editor Jon Arnold contributed to this report