"Unless I was broke,Â" he said, Â"which I'm not.Â"
Rather than give up his seat on the Indiana bench for Thursday's NCAA tournament opener against Oklahoma, Knight opted to pay the Big Ten fine himself for haranguing a referee.
The ref was punished, too. The Big Ten placed restrictions on his conference assignments next season, a penalty which did not seem to impress Knight.
"It simply means that he'll officiate games in other conferences instead,Â" he said.
Knight was at his colorful best discussing the incident after his team's light workout at the MCI Center.
Asked if anything he did was wrong, he launched into classic Knight mode, giving a cryptic answer that dealt with degrees of guilt.
"It isn't a determination that if a person kills another person, he goes to the electric chair,Â" Knight said.Â"There are a lot of different degrees to what happens with something like that. I really don't think that degrees were applied in this situation.Â"
This is the third time in Knight's 27 years at Indiana he has drawn a fine of at least $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Coach Knight has wide latitude in carrying out his responsibilities but also has an obligation to comply with the letter and spirit of conference standards governing sportsmanlike conduct,Â" Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.Â"In this case, coach Knight's postgame comments violated conference standards.Â"
Knight said the university Â"reluctantly agreed" to let him to pay the fine.
"The payment will be made under protest and without prejudice with respect to any legal rights that may be asserted by coach Knight,Â" the school said.
As of last April, Knight earned $145,500 a year as coach, although he is estimated to make as much as $400,000 from endorsements, TV and radio appearances and his summer basketball camp.
Knight's players agreed there was never a question whether their coach would be on the sidelines Thursday.
"I can't say I'm happy he took the fine,Â" sophomore A.J. Guyton said.Â"But I'm glad he did because it really helps us out knowing he's going to be there for us. We have to have him out there. I don't think we'd stand a chance (without him).Â"
Referee Ted Valentine was censured by the Big Ten for improperly calling a technical during the Indiana-Illinois game. He will not be allowed to work games involving Big Ten teams during the nonconference part of the 1998-99 season.
Big Ten associate commissioner Rich Falk, citing NCAA policy, would not say where, or if, Valentine was officiating during the NCAA tournament. Such decisions are not disclosed until 20 minutes before gametime.
Valentine called three technicals against Knight and ejected the coach during the Feb. 24 game. Knight called Valentine's officiating the Â"greatest travesty" he had seein his 33 years as a college coach.
The Big Ten said, "the first and third technicals assessed against Knight by Valentine were proper. But the second technical was Â"clearly erroneous" ... because Knight went onto the floor to attend an injured player.Â"
When the Big Ten gave Knight a choice between accepting a fine or a one-game suspension that would have meant missing the tournament opener, the university appealed. On Tuesday, the Big Ten rejected the appeal.
"The whole circumstance of the situation probably bothers me more deeply than any single situation I've been involved with as coach,Â" Knight said.
The committee that heard Indiana's appeal included faculty representatives and administrators at Big Ten schools.
The conference's conduct code prohibits coaches from intentionally inciting participants or spectators to violent or abusive action and publicly and unduly criticizing referees.
Knight received one technical foul in the first half, then picked up another - an automatic ejection - with 9:37 left in the second half after Luke Recker was injured.
On the play, Illinois' Sergio McClain grabbed the rim, drawing a technical. Knight argued that Recker's shot should have counted as a basket because of goaltending, but officials correctly ruled that when McClain grabbed the rim, the ball was automatically dead. Therefore, no goaltending.
Knight was given a technical for leaving the coaching area to check on Recker, who was still on the floor. Valentine then gave him a third technical. As the coach left the Assembly Hall floor, he made a point of walking in front of Valentine at midcourt.
In 1985, Knight was suspended for one game after throwing a chair across the court. He also was suspended for one game in 1993 when he screamed at his son, Pat, a member of the Indiana team, and kicked him in the leg. When fans behind the Indiana bench booed, Knight responded with an obscenity.
Knight also was reprimanded and fined $30,000 by the NCAA for an outburst at a news conference during the NCAA tournament in 1995. He also drew a $10,000 fine and a reprimand in 1987 after banging his fist on the scorer's table during an NCAA tournament game.
Early the next season, Knight was reprimanded by the university for refusing to let his team finish an exhibition game after he was ejected for arguing with a referee.
BACK TO MARCH MAYHEM
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed