FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has only retired one basketball jersey in the program’s history. But it appears that may change in the next few weeks.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told ESPN the Razorbacks are planning to hang a No. 42 jersey in the rafters of Bud Walton Arena in his honor as part of the program’s 20-year celebration of the 1993-94 national championship team.
Clinton, who was Arkansas’ high-profile fan during the Razorbacks run to the national title under former coach Nolan Richardson, spoke with ESPN while attending a Brooklyn Nets game in New York late last week.
“Well, they’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of Arkansas winning the national championship when I was President,” Clinton told an ESPN reporter. “So 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.”
Arkansas associate athletic director Kevin Trainor confirmed that the program is working with the Clinton Foundation on a date to “honor the former President and Arkansas Governor at a game at Bud Walton Arena.” But Trainor couldn’t provide any other details or an exact date of when it will take place.
Arkansas has two February home games remaining against LSU (Feb. 15) and South Carolina (Feb. 19). The Razorbacks also play two home games in March against Georgia (March 1) and Ole Miss (March 5).
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson — who was an assistant with the national title team — said Thursday he was not aware of any ceremony to honor Clinton. But Anderson said it would be good to see the former President back in the building.
“The last time I saw him in the building was probably after the national championship,” Anderson said. “During the national championship year and after the national championship year. When you talk about an alumnus, former president, a Hog fan, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Sidney Moncrief, who wore No. 32 during his Arkansas career, is the only Razorback player who has had his number retired by the program. He is No. 2 on the school’s career scoring chart and is the program’s career rebounding leader.
The jersey, which was originally hung in the rafters in Barnhill Arena, wasn’t put up in Bud Walton Arena when the building opened during the 1993-94 season.
Scotty Thurman, who was a member of the national championship team, said it would be “pretty cool” to see Clinton honored. But Thurman hopes deserving former players will be recognized for their achievements as well.
“I think it would probably be even much more exciting if we can start to have some of the former greats to be able to have their names put in the rafters as well,” said Thurman, whose three-pointer gave Arkansas the lead in the final minute of the national championship game. “So hopefully this will be something to get that jump started. I mean, I love the President, the former President and all, but he never scored any baskets here.
“So I think it’s more important for some of those guys that helped pave the way for this program to be great to be recognized as well.”