A $4 million lawsuit filed by an Indiana basketball recruit is "ludicrous," according to coach Bob Knight, who says the player was rejected for academic reasons, not because the university found out about his off-court problems.
The six-count complaint charges Knight, St. Joseph's High School and coach Gene Pingatore with "interference with contractual relations." Knight and Indiana are accused of "breach of contract," and Knight and officials at the Westchester, Ill., high school are cited for "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
Treadwell, a 6-foot-5 forward who signed with the Hoosiers last fall but was told in the spring he would not be admitted to the university, has been diagnosed with clinical depression and has been taking medication under a doctor's care, according to the suit.
The complaint, which seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages, says Knight and Indiana made no "reasonable accommodations for (Treadwell's) disability ... thereby breaking its contract."
Knight, who is vacationing in Canada, was contacted this week by The Herald-Times of Bloomington, Ind.
"From our standpoint, there's no problem I could imagine," Knight told the newspaper. "He was turned down (academically) and we went all through that (with the family). But we also gave him the opportunity to go to prep school. We had four schools who would have taken him in a scholarship situation."
Knight said the family wouldn't consider the prep school option.
"Once a player is turned down (academically) we have no obligation to take him," Knight said.
Indiana athletic director Clarence Doninger would not comment on the suit, which also alleges that members of the St. Joseph's staff spread rumors about Treadwell, calling him a "dope dealer" and "drug addict" and that those rumors led to Knight withdrawing the scholarship offer.
Treadwell attended three hgh schools and played only seven games last season. St. Joseph's officials said he had physical and academic problems his senior year and was not allowed to play basketball until the second semester because his grades dropped.
But the suit said the school "maliciously failed and refused" to allow Treadwell to play, even though doctors said he could, and that Indiana had "admitted other basketball players who attended three different schools and who had lesser academic credentials than (Treadwell)."
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved