Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award.
Clinton to have jersey retired
Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson (right) spends an emotional moment with his wife Rose and President Bill Clinton after an NCAA championship victory on Monday, April 4, 1994 in Charlotte, N.C.
FAYETTEVILLE Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will have a jersey retired at an Arkansas basketball game later this season.
During an interview with ESPN last weekend in Brooklyn, Clinton said he would have the No. 42 retired at Bud Walton Arena, but didn't specify at which game it would happen. Clinton said the decision was made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Razorbacks' NCAA championship win, which he attended.
"They said that I was their sixth man and they wanted to put a No. 42 jersey because I was the 42nd President, which I thought was really nice," Clinton said.
Clinton attended the final three games of Arkansas' championship run in 1994. The Razorbacks beat Michigan in Dallas in the Elite Eight, and Arizona and Duke in the Final Four in Charlotte, N.C. He also attended regular season games at Bud Walton Arena in the 1993-94 and 1995-96 seasons.
UA spokesman Kevin Trainor said the university is working with the Clinton Foundation to honor the former president at a game in Fayetteville, but said he had few other details. Arkansas has home games remaining against LSU on Feb. 15, South Carolina on Feb. 19, Georgia on March 1 and Ole Miss on March 5.
Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson said he was unaware of any ceremony to recognize Clinton, but said he would welcome one. Anderson was an assistant coach at Arkansas in 1994.
"The last time I saw Mr. Bill was after the national championship year," Anderson said. "When you talk about an alumnus, a former president a Hog fan, it doesn't get any better than that."
Clinton became the face of the 1994 NCAA Tournament after he appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover that year wearing an Arkansas basketball windbreaker with a headline that read, "Whooooo, Pig, Sooie!" Clinton didn't attend the UA, but was a law professor at the school and a lifelong Razorbacks fan after growing up in Arkansas.
The Razorbacks have retired only one jersey - Sidney Moncrief's No. 32 - in program history. That ceremony happened in Barnhill Arena but the jersey was never hung in Bud Walton Arena following the team's move to a new home in 1993.
Scotty Thurman, a member of the championship team, said he hopes the Clinton ceremony will encourage the university to retire more jerseys.
"I love the former President and all, but he never scored any baskets here," Thurman said. "It would be much more exciting to have former greats come back to be able to have their names put in the rafters as well."
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.