A talented freshman class of which Andrew Wiggins is headliner has made a ticket to Kansas University basketball games tougher than ever. That didn’t stop Joseph Nyre from landing one for tonight’s game against Iona College.
“It’s pretty hard to get 40 tickets to a KU game,” Nyre said. “One way to do it is to bring your own team back. You can get tickets.”
Nyre is the first lay president in the history of Iona College, a Catholic school in New Rochelle, N.Y., that always had had a Christian Brothers president.
A psychologist, Nyre is in his third year as president at Iona, where he has a framed copy of Dr. James Naismith’s original rules of basketball hanging on his office wall.
Nyre received his Ed.S from Kansas University (1993-96) and his Ph.D. in 1999. During his stay in Lawrence, he watched the Jayhawks play on TV and in person. One of the players he enjoyed watching, Greg Gurley of the Williams Fund, gave him a tour Monday of Allen Fieldhouse so that he could see the renovations.
Nyre and wife, Kelli, were married in Wichita in 1995 and have four children. The entire family joined him. They took in the football game Saturday in Memorial Stadium and will all be seated behind the Iona bench for tonight’s game in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I’m excited for our guys, our team, our school,” Nyre said. “And you know when you leave here Tuesday night one of your two favorite teams is going to win.”
Nyre walked Mass Street with his family and stopped by a favorite hangout from his days as a graduate student.
“Whenever we’re back we like to have popcorn at Liberty Hall,” he said. “You can get cheese on the popcorn and the kids like that. I was pleased to see, ‘Tuesday night, Kansas vs. Iona’ up on the marquee.”
Asked to put his psychologist cap and answer what athletics does for participants psychologically, Nyre was up to the challenge.
“Athletes at the D-I level, their successes are very public and their struggles are very public, and learning to manage that at a very young age, I think, is a tremendous life lesson,” he said.
“…Learning all of these skills, how to lead, how to win with integrity, how to lose with class, how to shake a bad call, not all calls are going to be perfect, and how to overcome these things is a tremendous, tremendous challenge that coach (Bill) Self, coach (Tim) Cluess and many others are helping these young men and women transition through. I think college atheltics is a critical part of the college experience, either as a player or a student. Look what it adds. Look at what having this basketball arena does for this campus.”