Bob Knight Coming to the Lerner Oct. 17

July 25, 2012

Bob Knight is coming to the Lerner Theatre, and the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart is coming to North Side Middle School.

That first-mentioned event will be for one night, while officials are hopeful the second will remain in place for the long haul.

Knight’s Oct. 17 appearance at the Lerner — which will include a VIP reception followed by a general-audience presentation — will serve as a well-timed fund-raiser for the Boys & Girls Club, which will launch its North Side after-school program two days earlier on Oct. 15.

The Elkhart club, which made its debut just two years ago, currently runs after-school programs at Beardsley and Osolo elementary schools, in addition to its more limited “power hour” program at Bristol Elementary.

“What we’ve determined is that we have to grow more vertically with these kids,” said Ryon Wheeler, associate executive director for the Elkhart club.

“That’s when we’re most efficient — when we can flow with the kids from kindergarten through graduation,” Wheeler said Wednesday, “rather than stop when they reach sixth grade, and (the program at North Side) is a step in that direction.”

Similar to efforts at the elementary schools, the North Side program will include activities focusing on education, character, health and life skills, according to Wheeler, and go until 6 p.m. each day.

Cost for a membership is $15 per year, though no child is turned away for financial reasons, Wheeler said.

Meanwhile, the true cost to run the program is about $500 per child per year, according to Wheeler.

That’s where the Knight event comes into play.

The VIP reception with the iconic former basketball coach, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Lerner’s Crystal Ballroom, is offered for a $5,000 sponsorship.

The packages include four reception passes, a group photo with Knight, who will sign one item per person, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, preferred seating for Knight’s 7 to 8:30 p.m. general-audience presentation, and four additional tickets to that presentation.

Ticket prices for the 7 to 8:30 p.m. event only in the 1,707-seat theater have not been set.

Those tickets will likely go on sale in late August or the first week of September, according to Boys & Girls Club board member and Knight event coordinator Dan Morrison.

According to Morrison, Knight friend and local businessman Chuck Lamb led the way in facilitating Knight’s appearance.

“This is our major fundraiser for the year,” Morrison said, “and it’s a big part of the board approving the roll-out of a program at North Side Middle School.”

Wheeler anticipates about 100 students will take advantage of the North Side program initially, though “we’re prepared for up to 250.”

During the second half of the 2011-12 school year, an average of 360 students per day participated in programs at Beardsley, Osolo and Bristol.

“We’re very excited and thankful to have (Knight),” said Kevin Deary, president and CEO for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, which oversees the clubs in Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Nappanee.

For Knight, it will be another of several public speaking appearances he’s made in Northern Indiana over the last few years, but it’s also believed to be just his second in Elkhart County since he was abruptly fired at Indiana University in 2000 under a “zero tolerance” policy.

Knight, now a college basketball commentator for ESPN, guided the Hoosiers for 29 colorful years, and the team won national titles in 1976, 1981 and 1987. His IU teams won 11 Big Ten regular-season titles and he earned national coach of the year awards in at least four seasons.

Overall, beginning with six years at Army and capped by six-plus at Texas Tech, Knight went 902-371 before stepping down in 2008 as the all-time leader in men’s Division I victories (since surpassed by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski).

His Elkhart stop will come eight days in front of his 72nd birthday.

For more information on a VIP sponsorship, call Wheeler at 295-6838 or email to [email protected].