Sunday, 23rd June 2024

1/21/2013: State of the Big Ten, Volume 83 (premium)

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by in Iowa Basketball, Iowa Football


Every Monday, we will be running a weekly series titled “State of the Big Ten,” which will be made available to all members of This series of columns will focus on one major headline regarding the conference and go in-depth on the subject at hand.

By Brendan Stiles

All last week, Iowa City was abuzz with the 20th anniversary of Chris Street’s death approaching and how the Iowa men’s basketball program would honor its late icon.

On Jan. 19, which marked the anniversary, the Hawkeyes defeated Wisconsin, 70-66. They did so even though the Badgers entered that game alone in first place of the Big Ten.

On that night, Street was celebrated in numerous ways. Iowa players warmed up wearing white T-shirts that had his last name and number on the back. The school conducted a halftime ceremony where a video about him was shown and his family was recognized. Right before tip-off, the team took his jersey and draped it over a seat at the end of the Iowa bench. All classy ways of paying homage.

Afterwards, word broke of Iowa wanting to honor Street by putting his last name on the back of every game-worn jersey. This was an idea the school pursued the NCAA about, but was ultimately shot down.

In all honesty, this is one of those instances where it would’ve best served all parties had it not been revealed. While the argument is valid for the NCAA acting cold-hearted, its rationale, at least based off what Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said, is sort of understandable.

As far as Iowa’s concerned, it was able to pay tribute in an appropriate fashion — from before the game with the warm-up shirts, to draping the bench chair with his jersey. Everything the Hawkeyes did was classy. Not to mention the fact that the uniforms that were worn featured “CMS4o” on them like the ones worn when Iowa played Michigan in 1993 nearly two weeks after Street’s death.

Putting his last name on every player’s jersey would’ve been neat. But think back to when Iowa honored Nile Kinnick in 2004 with the throwback uniforms honoring the 1939 squad he won the Heisman Trophy playing for. Did the Hawkeye football team all have “Kinnick” on the back of its uniforms that afternoon? No.

Here’s the other thing to keep in mind as well — if the Hawkeyes really wanted to have “Street” on the back of every uniform Saturday night, what honestly was stopping it? Iowa could’ve disregarded the NCAA if it wanted. It’s not like Saturday’s game would’ve been halted because of the uniforms, and it’s not like the NCAA had a representative on site that could’ve interrupted the game saying it wasn’t allowed.

Sure, there would be consequences from disregarding the NCAA altogether. But the majority of the public would’ve overwhelmingly sided with Iowa here had the NCAA said anything critical after the fact. It wouldn’t have been the first time someone disregarded the NCAA and it will likely happen again at some point in time with some other school.

This story surfacing now, in a way, takes away from what that night was all about. Instead of the talk nationally being about everything Iowa did, it was about what it wasn’t able to do. It’s a good lesson for both parties. If Iowa wants to do anything like that again, it should just do it. Meanwhile, the NCAA might want to reconsider its stance on this for future reference, even just a little bit.

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