An apology by Indiana basketball Coach Bob Knight for a 1979 incident in which he allegedly assaulted a San Juan policeman drew mixed reactions Wednesday in Puerto Rico.
Hector Reichard, a former Puerto Rico justice secretary, said the commonwealth should not waste its time, money or energy in pursuing prosecution of Knight, who has been found guilty in absentia, sentenced to six months in jail and who could face extradition.
But Sen. Miguel Miranda, a member of the opposition New Progressive Party, urged the governor not to pardon Knight.
Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon has never mentioned a pardon for Knight, and has left open the possibility of prosecution.
Knight’s apology was in a letter to German Rieckehoff, president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee. Rieckehoff has urged the government not to consider any further legal action against Knight.
Knight was charged with assault on a policeman while he was coaching the U.S. basketball team during the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan. The alleged assault occurred in a gymnasium during one of the U.S. team’s practice sessions.
Knight allegedly argued with a policeman about use of the gymnasium, which was occupied by the Brazilian team at the time. He allegedly punched the policeman.
Knight was charged and ordered to appear before a judge in Puerto Rico, but left the island before a trial could be held. He refused to return, and Indiana officials rejected Puerto Rican requests for extradition.
Knight sent the apology after Colon had asked the island’s justice department about the possibility of extraditing Knight in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision June 23 that overturned a 126-year-old ruling and allowed federal courts to force states to extradite fugitives to other states.