Eager to honor the memory of former star forward Chris Street on the 20th anniversary of his death in an automobile accident, Iowa officials began tossing around ideas weeks ago for this past Saturday's home game against Wisconsin.
All of their ideas came to fruition except one.
The NCAA denied Iowa's request to wear special commemorative jerseys with "Street" on the back where each individual player's last name normally would be. An NCAA official did not immediately return an email seeking an explanation Monday, but Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told the Des Moines Register the NCAA feared too many teams would seek similar exceptions if it granted this one.
"There have been so many exception requests, I think they decided, 'The rule stands as it is,'" McCaffery said. "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."
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It's a bit surprising the NCAA would deny Iowa's request considering both Providence and Xavier were permitted to wear special jerseys last month honoring the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Providence's jerseys had "Sandy Hook" on the back in place of their players' last names, while Xavier's replaced its school name on the front with "Sandy Hook."
Special jerseys to honor past players or support charitable causes could become more popular were the NCAA to begin granting exceptions, but what would be the harm in that? The NCAA doesn't appear to have any problem when schools don black, gray, camouflage or fluorescent alternate jerseys, but of course sales of those jerseys turn a profit for member schools and Nike, Adidas or UnderArmour.
Thankfully, the NCAA's decision didn't take away from a special day for Street's family and for the Hawkeyes.
During warmups, Iowa players wore white t-shirts over their jerseys that read, "If you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end." They shed those shirts before tipoff to reveal jerseys with patches on the front that read "CMS40," Street's initials and jersey number. And at halftime, members of the Street family were honored at mid-court, as were past recipients of the Chris Street Award, presented annually to the Iowa player who best embodies the enthusiasm and passion of Street.
All of the hard work by Iowa officials made the Hawkeyes' victory over Wisconsin especially memorable for members of the Street family. Street's parents, Patty and Mike, even received the game ball in the locker room after the win and briefly addressed the team.
Said Patty Street to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, "We all feel blessed that Christopher’s memory has been kept alive and that people still remember him."
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