Bad Timing: Texas Tech’s firing of Pat Knight

9 Mar

On March 7, Texas Tech issued a press release announcing that men’s basketball coach Pat Knight will be “relieved of his duties” at the conclusion of the season. Now, he’ll guide the team through the remainder of its games, but after that, he will no longer be employed by the Red Raiders.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s wrong to announce a coach’s firing before the end of the season? What purpose can this possibly serve?

To me, announcing a coach won’t return for next season while this season is still in progress is the administration saying that 1) it has zero faith in him, and 2) it feels the need to make sure everyone knows it. To me, that kind of statement undermines whatever is left of the season, creating a big distraction for the players and taking focus away from the team. To me, that’s outrageously disrespectful.

Coming into this season, Knight said that this was a “get-an-extension-or-get-fired type of year” for him. It’s not as if he doesn’t understand his situation, as if he did not understand it coming into this season. I’m sure he would not have been surprised to be let go at the end of the season, with the way games have gone.

I don’t know if Texas Tech thinks this announcement alleviates the pressure and gives the team a nothing-to-lose mentality going into the Big 12 tournament or what its rationale is, but I think it’s a crummy thing to do. During the offseason, a firing is more of a blip on the radar screen. While the season is still going, it gets a little more attention. In my opinion, firing a coach is something to be done as privately and subtly as possible – especially when he’s being let go for a lack of wins, not NCAA indiscretions or anything dishonorable.

K-State head coach Frank Martin said Knight is one of the good guys in the league and that it’s hard to see this happen to him. From my limited experiences talking with Knight, I’m inclined to agree with Martin. When I talked to the coach at the Big 12 Media Day and at a post-game press conference in Bramlage this season, his analysis and explanation of the game impressed me, and he comes across as one of those genuine people with a serious work ethic.

Obviously, the Red Raiders have been losing, and that’s not acceptable in college sports. I’m not surprised Texas Tech decided to go in a different direction, but I think announcing that decision with games still to be played was a poor move.




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