Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

February 18, 2014

Time to properly honor Gipson

It’s the new symbol of Northeastern State University athletics. It sits shiny and polished at the corner of Grand Avenue and North Street.

The newly-minted NSU Event Center even says as much on the southeast corner of the facility: “NORTHEASTERN STATE UNIVERSITY EVENT CENTER.”

It’s not currently named after any one person – not like NSU’s old basketball abode, the Jack Dobbins Field House.

No, the 3,000-plus seating venue sits nameless, waiting for a label it’s soon to get. And in these challenging economic times, the building’s new name will likely sport a corporate moniker — whether it’s a local company, a regional retailer or perhaps the name of an Indian tribe based not far down the road.

Whatever the case, the naming rights are surely up for grabs, and it’s a way for NSU to make more money for the university and its athletic department. No shame in that; it’s a win-win.

So, instead of embroidering a name on the outside of the building, here’s a thought: Name the court in the new venue after the winningest women’s basketball coach and the second-winningest men’s basketball coach. It’d be easy, because they share the same last name.

Gipson.

Gipson Court. Not bad, huh?

Doesn’t have the same pizzazz as Coach K Court at Duke. But it pays homage all the same.

And there are no two people more deserving of court-naming recognition than Randy and Larry Gipson. What they’ve done for NSU for nearly two decades is unmatched: A combined 564 wins, 12 NCAA tournament appearances, 12 North Division titles in the Lone Star Conference and one national championship.

What more could you ask of them?

On Sunday, Larry Gipson announced he’s retiring at the end of the current season. Randy has made no indications to follow suit anytime soon. That means only one Gipson brother will continue on past the 2013-2014 season.

But their names should live on forever. On the hardwood. On the floor that current and future NSU players will play on.

Ten years ago, Larry Gipson was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame for guiding NSU to the first-ever NCAA national championship in school history. That’s quite prestigious, but more can be done.

First, a spot can be reserved for Randy in the Hall of Fame.

Then, the court can don the names of the most recent basketball-coaching brother tandem in the country. However, if the court dedication comes first, so be it. No complaint here.

And while it’s likely too soon to ask that the court be renamed before Larry Gipson’s final home game — on Wednesday against Pittsburg State — a court-naming ceremony at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season isn’t too much to ask, right?

After all, the Gipson brothers have given all they’ve had over the past 15 to 17 years. It’s time NSU show its gratitude and make it forever Gipson Court at the NSU Event Center.

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