"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Retired Numbers Vs. Retired Jerseys

It was great news to see Kameron Jones confirm his commitment to Marquette shortly after Shaka Smart was hired as the new men's basketball head coach.


While having Tennessee's Division 2A Mr. Basketball in the fold shows that players are excited to be playing for Shaka when they originally committed to play for former head coach Steve Wojciechowski, something struck me as odd in Kam's announcement.

He is wearing a Marquette uniform with number three on it! You know Dwyane Wade's number. The one that currently hangs in the Fiserv Forum rafters.

  Photo courtesy of my first ever trip to FiServ Forum

I could not help wondering would Marquette actually let him wear number three

I was soon surprised to get my answer from Marquette Deputy Athletic Director Mike Broeker and Jones himself.


So, it turns out No. 3 will never be worn again. 

It got me thinking is Wade's number officially retired then? I thought Marquette retired jerseys and not numbers. 

That was the position going back to 2006 (and again in 2015 with Haanif Cheatem) when Lazar Hayward started his freshman campaign wearing No. 24. Problem with that number was it hung in the Bradley Center rafters in honor of the great George Thompson. The controversy was legendary head coach Al McGuire told Thompson at the time No. 24 was retired and Thompson was taken aback suddenly to find out it was not true. 

I remember having an off the record conversation at the time with a Marquette Athletic Department official who explained why it was jersey retirement and not number retirement. The simple explanation was citing North Carolina's policy on retiring jerseys because if they retired numbers, UNC would run out of numbers. The analogy makes sense, even though UNC does have eight retired numbers, since the NCAA has a rule banning numbers starting or ending with six through nine and any number over 55 (If you want to know why, it is all explained here).

Broeker’s tweet and the two attempts to issue 24 only to be changed still makes it feel like some numbers are retired. So is it retired numbers or jerseys?

The official Marquette stance on retired jerseys vs. numbers according to Senior Associate Athletic Director Scott Kuykendall is Marquette retires jerseys. Although he told me during our email exchange that conversations will be had before issuing any of the retired jerseys (Page 47 when you click on the link) numbers to a future player (I would assume that is one of the reasons no one is ever wearing three again).

Now that Marquette is playing in the Fiserv Forum, will there be more jersey going into the rafters? Can Marquette even put any more jersey banners in the rafters or does the lease with the Fiserv Forum limit how many banners Marquette can have?

The answer according to Kuykendall is there is no limit on how many jerseys Marquette can hang in the rafters. If it got tight up in the space alloted, the university can always adjust the banner size. 

He also added that the program does have some jerseys on its radar it would like to add to the rafters. He was unable to disclose though what the criteria is to be considered for jersey retirement as it is university classified internal document. For those who have never worked in document classification or in the corporate world, it is a nice way of saying we have standards and it is written down but it is not for public knowledge. Hey, Marquette is a private institution so that can do what they want I guess.

I am left thinking then what other jerseys should retired? Also what numbers should have a hard no always when future conversations might take place? Well, I will tackle this in a series throughout the off-season. 

If you got some players you feel should have a banner with its number hanging at Fiserv, feel free to tweet me your suggestions and safe for work reasons why to @toddjdub

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