by Mike Coffey
Whenever an honorary society is created, timing becomes important. Yes, everyone invited to join is being honored, but there’s an unspoken hierarchy created by the order in which people are asked.
Notre Dame is running into this issue with the basketball Ring of Honor created last year. A capacity crowd at the Purcell Pavilion this weekend saw Irish superstar Austin Carr receive his just due, with his #34 raised to the rafters while the emotional former National Player of the Year smiled through his tears.
But some folks couldn’t help but notice that #34 joined two numbers already up there — Luke Harangody’s #44 and Ruth Riley’s double-zero. Why, they wondered, wasn’t Carr afforded the first spot in the Ring? After all, he is beyond question the greatest ND player ever.
The answer, as so many are, is complicated. Everyone wants the chance to allow the honorees to participate in their own enshrinement. But with so many seemingly-obvious choices for Ring membership still active in professional basketball as players, coaches or administrators, and with so much overlap between the professional and collegiate seasons, getting on the honorees’ schedules can be a challenge.
Harangody, the second-leading scorer in ND men’s basketball history was enshrined when the Ring was created last year, the logic being once he began his career in the NBA, it’d be much tougher to get him back to do it. When Riley was on campus for a reunion with the 2001 National Championship team, she was similarly honored.
While some may feel Carr should have been first regardless, it’s important to note no snub was intended or perceived. A.C. has always been an ND man at heart, and still maintains a loyalty and love for the program and school that taught him what he considers the important things in life. That he was third in the induction queue doesn’t make a difference, and likely won’t make a difference to future inductees.
But let’s pretend for a moment that it does. For the next five minutes or so, you and Jack Swarbrick do a “Freaky Friday”, and you have to determine the next five people added to the Ring. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume Adrian Dantley is already scheduled (for the record, I don’t know this to be true) and move down the list.
Who’s your five?