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The NCAA denied Iowa’s request to wear Chris Street jersey on Saturday

Jan 21, 2013, 1:03 PM EDT

Jerry Storm

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the death of Chris Street, a star basketball player for the Iowa Hawkeyes that tragically passed away when the car he was driving was hit by a snowplow.

The Hawkeyes did plenty to honor Street on Saturday: they wore a patch on their jerseys that said CMS40; they invited Street’s family to the game and honored them at halftime; they wore shirts during lay-up lines that said “If you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end”; they left an empty seat on the bench with his jersey on it; and, perhaps most importantly, they honored his memory by knocking off Wisconsin on Saturday.

All in all, Iowa did a great job of remembering the tragedy.

But unfortunately, the NCAA wouldn’t let them do more.

Iowa applied for a waiver that would have allowed them to have the name ‘Street’ written on the back of every team member’s uniform. It was denied by the NCAA. Fran McCaffery explains their reasoning:

“If you read the rule itself it’s pretty self explanatory,” McCaffery said. “In that case it would have to be an exception granted. And I think the issue was there have been so many exception requests, I think they decided, “The rule stands as it is.’ And that’s pretty much what it was. If you start granting exceptions, then every game somebody wants to do something for some other reason, some other legitimate cause. They just didn’t want to do that.”

I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m going to go ahead and disagree with it. Strongly.

How often do we see teams wearing new, special jerseys these days, whether it’s the fluorescent uniforms worn by Baylor, Cincinnati and Louisville, the state flag uniforms donned by Maryland, the black-on-black jerseys with the illegible names and numbers Notre Dame wore earlier this season, or any other speciality jersey used to raise awareness for apparel companies like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.

In recent weeks, schools like Xavier and Providence have used names and color schemes of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, to honor those victims. Kentucky wore these jerseys in 2008.

But putting the name of a deceased player on the back of your jerseys to honor the 20th anniversary of his death is not OK?

I don’t understand it.

At the end of the day, however, the name on the back of the jersey didn’t matter. Iowa did about as well as you can in such a difficult situation. That moment shouldn’t be tarnished by the NCAA’s stupidity.

Anyway, here’s a video of Chris’ parents receiving the game-ball from the team in the locker room after the game:

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. binarymath - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    For decades now, there has been a well-accepted standard for memorializing players, coaches, or owners on team uniforms. We saw that again this weekend with the black and white patch for Art Modell on the Ravens’ jerseys. Iowa requested to go outside of that accepted standard, and the NCAA did the right thing, even if it was unpopular.

    In college basketball, it is a technical foul for players to have the same number, and Iowa wisely chose not to duplicate the number 40. But they were out of bounds in thinking that duplicating a player’s name on the jersey would not create issues.

    Imagine if all the Hawkeyes had “Street” on their jersey. Ref sees a Hawkeye foul, but is screened off from seeing the number. He then has to take a couple extra seconds to verify the culprit and report the correct player number to the official scorer. Assuming the refs make no mistakes, figure 8-10 fouls per half for Iowa x a few seconds extra per foul, and it’s not a big deal either way (unless you are the producer of the telecast).

    But if a foul was assigned to the wrong player, the refs would be called to task. There would certainly be a game delay – regardless of whether such an event could be corrected under the replay rules. And if the error was NOT corrected, it would become a “cause celebre” for youtube and chat rooms.

    Bottom line: there is an accepted way to honor the dead on sports uniforms. Iowa wanted to do something different, and the NCAA stepped in and denied the request. But that does not make the NCAA a villain in this case.

    • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jan 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Imagine if all the Hawkeyes had “Street” on their jersey. Ref sees a Hawkeye foul, but is screened off from seeing the number. He then has to take a couple extra seconds to verify the culprit and report the correct player number to the official scorer.


      As a rec league ref, I can understand this sentiment, but you might want to check out what Gonzaga had on the back of their uni’s Saturday night. I understand it’s the team name versus an individual’s … but it kind of shoots your arguement.

      • fatediesel - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        It’s not like Iowa would have been the first team with the same name on their jerseys. In 2008 Kentucky’s entire team had the same last name on their jerseys in a tribute to their equipment manager that had died, and earlier this year everyone on Providence had Sandy Hook on the back of their jersey. In addition there are teams that don’t have names at all so refs should be trained to look at the number and not the name.

  2. mrbgood315 - Jan 21, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    But yet Oregon can wear all black jerseys with completely illegible player names which are also in black. Makes sense.

    • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      I think that’s called the Phil Knight effect ($$$).

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