Editorial: Jersey honor

Has the honor of having a jersey hung from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters been diluted by changing criteria?

February 4, 2013


It’s nice that the jersey of former Kansas University basketball player Mario Chalmers will be hung from the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse. This is one of the highest honors a KU basketball player can receive.

Chalmers is a fine basketball player and is best known for his last-second shot in the 2008 NCAA National Championship game, which sent the game into overtime, resulting in a Jayhawk victory over Memphis.

Few deny Chalmers, now a starter with the professional Miami Heat team, was an outstanding player, but many question his quick ascension to the honor of having his jersey join the ranks of former KU basketball greats.

The problem is that, when the tradition of having jerseys of truly outstanding players recognized in this manner began, there were very specific guidelines about who could qualify for this high honor. The original qualifications, established in 1991, for a retired jersey included KU players being named college basketball player of the year, most valuable player in the NCAA tournament or an All-American player four times. The original players so honored were: Clyde Lovellette, Danny Manning, B.H. Born, Charlie T. Black, Paul Endacott, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie B. Black. The list was expanded in 1997 to include Ray Evans, who was an All-American in both football and basketball.

According to the KU basketball media guide, the criteria were expanded in 2002 to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-Americans and Academic All-Americans of the Year. Since that time, even a sportscaster for KU Athletics has a jersey hung among the star basketball players. Why not a separate area for such honorees?

Again, Chalmers was an outstanding KU basketball player, but neither Chalmers nor many other recent honorees measure up to the requirements demanded for the early honorees.

Granted, times change, values change and those serving as referees and/or judges change. Coaches change and athletic directors change. Also, the game itself changes, but the first criteria, which set the standard or guidelines for this honor, should not change. They were and continue to be extremely tough and challenging goals.

Today, no matter how the current method may be explained or justified, it isn’t as difficult to have a player’s jersey hung from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters as it was when the procedure was initiated. This, in no way, detracts from the excellence of recent honorees, but the standards and requirements are far different.

Apparently, a coach, such as Larry Brown, Roy Williams or Bill Self, or an athletic director, such as Al Bohl, Lew Perkins or Sheahon Zenger, can lobby to get whomever they wish to be honored with a jersey hanging.

This is fine. Athletic department officials can do whatever they wish. Perhaps they want to have retired jerseys hanging from all the fieldhouse rafters. Maybe this is an effective recruiting tactic. Maybe they tell prized recruits and their parents to look at those jerseys and say, “You can have your name up there if you come to KU.”

Congratulations to Mario Chalmers. He was a good player at KU and represented the university well. He and his family certainly have every right to be proud there is a jersey with the Chalmers’ name and No. 15 hanging in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.


Drew Deck 5 years, 3 months ago

Being MVP of the Final Four earns it in my book. I agree that the standards could get too loose as well. However, I think that the most laughable criteria is Academic All American. We are honoring someone in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse by their performance in the classroom? That's pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Isn't Aldrich the one that gets in on that exception?Enough said.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the editorial staff missed the point that Mario was the Most Outstanding Player, there is no MVP of the 2008 NCAA National Champions which was one of the original criteria established. Perhaps the editorial staff needs a fact checker? And for Drewdeck, the Academic AA is the Jacques Vaughn exception.

Sally Piller 5 years, 3 months ago

This has got to be one of the worst LJW editorials I've seen yet, full of back handed compliments, "he was a good player", etc... The Mario's Miracle shot is what KU has been using to pump up the crowd to great effect every year since. He absolutely deserves this. I can't believe the nasty tone of this piece. LJW you suck.

KU_cynic 5 years, 3 months ago

I think the easing of the criteria can be explained by the need to have younger, more relevant, more familiar names hanging in the rafters for new recruits -- so perhaps they can imagine their own names there someday.

No offense to the old guys, but they're irrelevant ancient history to an 18-year-old recruit.

The college game is not about a century old record book. It's about the next recruiting class.

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