Marion Suge Knight Huge Potential ...     

Posted by Robert
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11/4/2003 12:04:01 PM
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Marion Suge Knight Huge Potential Benefactor-Not

Money is always in short supply on college campuses. But a man who could have eased the burden at UNLV and had the financial wherewithal to do it, instead gave nothing because the school fired his football coach.

Marion "Suge" Knight was an all-conference defensive lineman for the Rebels in the 1985 and '86 seasons, long before he was rich and famous.

He went on to become the founder of Death Row Records and was a forerunner in the development of hip-hop and rap music. He made zillions of dollars.

But he wasn't a contributor to UNLV or its athletic department, simply because his initial head coach with the Rebels, Harvey Hyde, was fired after the 1985 season.

"I don't know any more than what he told me, but that's what he said," Hyde said of Knight's refusal to send any cash UNLV's way. "The shame of it is that of all the people who ever went to UNLV, no one made the type of money that Suge made. I think he was making $100 million, $200 million or more a year for a lot of years.

"But he said that he felt that I got a raw deal, and he never gave anything to the school."

Hyde, who works in sports radio in Southern California and Las Vegas and says he's "busier than ever," coached the UNLV football team for four years and compiled a 26-19-1 record before being let go in 1985, in part because the Rebels were forced to forfeit some games and in part because a few of his players had legal troubles.

At his peak, Knight ran the country's largest rap-music label and lived and spent extravagantly. He may still have some money stashed away, but Death Row is all but out of business today and Knight is confined to California by his parole board.

A Los Angeles Times story on him earlier this year painted a picture of a man, brazen by all accounts, immersed in gang rivalries and life on the edge.

"Suge Knight has made a lot of enemies over the years," the paper quoted Tim Brennan, formerly of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, as saying.

"If I was Suge Knight, I'd be worried someone was out to get me," added Sgt. Fred Reynolds of the same police agency. "When so many people so close to you get killed, it's no coincidence."

Knight, who apparently has sold a home he once had in Las Vegas -- he had the bottom of its swimming pool painted red to reflect his association with the Mob Piru Bloods gang -- and no longer lives here, has had no fewer than eight close associates killed by rival gangs since 1997. And a year earlier, in 1996 and after a Mike Tyson fight at the MGM, he was at Tupac Shakur's side as the rapper was gunned down on a Las Vegas street.

"I don't believe anyone is hunting me down. But even if they were, so what?" Knight told the Times. "I'm from the ghetto, where black men get killed every day.

"You can't stop cowards from doing cowardly things."

Knight, 37, was most recently arrested in June and charged with punching a parking lot attendant in Hollywood. Hyde has since talked to Knight and said the episode in question was the result of the attendant refusing to park Knight's car in an area in which Knight could make a quick getaway if need be.

With the exception of a dinner date with Hyde several years ago in which the former coach asked Knight to come alone to a Pasadena restaurant, Knight habitually keeps several bodyguards around him.

Beyond the well-documented "East Coast vs. West Coast" rap feud that led to Shakur's death and envelopes Knight as well, the former music mogul supposedly has been targeted by a former employee bent on revenge.

"He's called a couple of times," Hyde said of his association with Knight. "I have no idea why (there are violent overtones in his life) and I don't ask, because that's none of my business."

But Hyde and Knight have been close over the years and Hyde, as well as former UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel, fondly recall his two seasons with the Rebels as a 6-foot-2, 260-pound lineman.

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