NCAA nixes Hawkeyes' positive gesture

Bureaucracies don't bend when they should

Published: January 21 2013 | 2:32 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:21 am in

The NCAA says it's OK for Iowa (or anyone else) to have Nike swooshes on its basketball uniforms.

But to have all the Hawkeye players wear the name "Street" on the back of them for one night only? That was taboo.

This is shooting fish in a barrel. It's too easy to slam the NCAA for being dumb about this. It's bureaucratic laziness.

Before last Saturday's Wisconsin-Iowa game, Iowa checked with the NCAA to see if it would be permissible to have the late Chris Street's last name on the backs of all the Hawkeye players' jerseys for this one special night, the 20th anniversary of Street's death. Request denied.

“If you read the rule itself it’s pretty self explanatory,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on Monday on the Big Ten's teleconference. “In that case it would have to be an exception granted. And I think the issue was there have been so many exception requests, I think they decided, 'The rule stands as it is.’ 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.”

Is that really a valid answer? The NCAAs, I mean, not McCaffery's. If you're the NCAA, can't you say 'OK, this request is totally legitimate. It's not a gimmick, it's not hurting anyone, it's being done to honor someone who still resonates with a school and a state and a sport 20 years later. Go ahead and do it.'

And if School No. 2, and No. 3, and No. 10 come to the NCAA to do something similar, so be it. The NCAA always says the sports are for the student-athletes. Which is nonsense, but let's pretend it's true. In which case, why not help the schools celebrate them and their legacies when it wouldn't cost anyone anything?

I thought the school handled Saturday's ceremonies with just the right touch, not the easiest thing to do. I don't think Iowa was missing anything by not having Street's name on all the jerseys. Some might even have thought it would have been too much. I liked the CMS40 patches on the jerseys. But if this was something Iowa thought had merit, it was something that could have been accommodated by the NCAA without any aggravation.

Strange. Oregon can have a Nike-designed uniform arsenal, and all is good even though it's clearly for selling merchandise to the public as much as branding. Somebody's making money because of it, and it isn't the people wearing the uniforms on the field of play.

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