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.