Honoring Jevon Carter and WVU’s Athletic Awards
The completion of Jevon Carter’s outstanding basketball career at West Virginia has sparked calls for immediate honors for the best collegiate defensive player of at least the past 20 years. Carter, the opinion goes, should be immediately honored by the school. Some of those calls, however, include demands for awards that no longer exist at the school, while others ignore established criteria and pound the table for immediate enshrinement.
Leaving the question of circumventing the established procedures aside for the moment, it’s important to understand the three levels of honors that currently exist for WVU athletes, and the parameters for each. It also should be noted that retirement of a jersey, which is one of the items being promoted as an immediate way of recognizing Carter, is no longer one of the three levels of achievement. West Virginia University no longer retires jerseys, so calls that that honor don’t carry any weight.
Currently there are three levels of recognition for athletes and coaches at West Virginia. The first level of honor is being selected to the WVU Athletics Hall of Fame. The initial requirement for nomination to the Hall for student-athletes calls for a 10-year waiting period for athletes, so as to provide proper perspective on their careers. (Again, we’ll address calls to bypass this requirement later.) There are other requirements, but basically a nominee must have attended WVU for at least two years and brought fame to himself and WVU through his or her play. To be elected, a nominee must receive votes from at least nine of the 12 Hall of Fame Committee members. (Disclaimer: Greg Hunter of the Blue & Gold News is a committee member.)
The next level of honor is the Mountaineer Legends Society. Inclusion in the Legends Society requires that a player first be elected to the WVU Athletics Hall of Fame, and then meet only one from a list of additional criteria for his or her sport. For a basketball, that list includes:
1. Wooden Trophy recipient
2. Inductee of the National Basketball Hall of Fame and/or College Basketball Hall of Fame
3. NCAA career statistical leader at completion of eligibility
4. Player with one or more first team All-America postseason honors
5. Player who was selected for a conference postseason major award
6. Player who was selected national postseason player of the year
7. Player who was selected for a major national postseason honor
8. Player with multiple first-team All-Conference selections
(There are different achievement lists for each sport, and the various coaches have their own list of criteria.)
Once a player is elected to the Hall of Fame, and possesses at least one of the Legends criteria, he or she automatically becomes a member of the Legends Society. Therefore, upon entering the WVU Athletics Hall of Fame, players and coaches who possess one of the qualifying criteria for Legends status automatically earn entrance into that group.
The final level is the retirement of a player’s number, and it is the most difficult level to achieve. The player must achieve all five of the following criteria:
1. Athlete must have earned an undergraduate degree from WVU
2. Athlete must be a member of the Legends Society
3. Athlete must elected to WVU Sports Hall of Fame
4. Athlete must be elected to a national collegiate or professional Hall of Fame for his/her sport
5. Athlete must have brought prominence to WVU and his/her sport as a member of an Olympic or international team or in the professional ranks.
Again, there’s room for debate here, which we’ll address, along with the case for bypassing the waiting period for the WVU Athletics Hall of Fame, in Part II of this series coming soon. Should Jevon Carter, or any WVU athlete, be eligible to bypass established criteria for honors? If so, should that call for the establishment of yet another set of criteria? Or should they be judged on an eyeball or case-by-case basis? There are several factors to consider on both sides, and the answer is probably not an easy one to arrive at.