Now that Frank Kaminsky’s No. 44 is scheduled to be honored, how long will it be before Lauren Carlini’s No. 1 is hanging in the rafters at the UW Field House?
The University of Wisconsin announced earlier this month that Kaminsky, who now plays for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, will be honored on Feb. 15 and his jersey will hang alongside Ab Nicholas’ No. 8 at the Kohl Center.
So is Carlini, the first four-time All-American and first three-time first-team All-American volleyball player in UW history, next?
That’s a question UW coach Kelly Sheffield has been asked repeatedly since Carlini’s career ended last year. And his answer is that it’s complicated.
And it’s also out of his hands.
“I hear about it all the time,” Sheffield said. “I get a lot of stuff sent to me and I get where that’s coming from. It’s a bigger than me thing, and it should be. It should be bigger than the coach. It’s something I know the (athletic) department has had some discussions about as to what our philosophy is.
“The past few years when you look at women’s hockey, women’s soccer, men’s basketball, volleyball, you’re looking at the best players, or amongst the best players, that have come through those sports. You haven’t seen a whole lot of jersey retirements in any of those sports. It’s extremely selective.
“We’re at that point where the number of people outside of football who have been amongst the very best in the country the past few years has been insane here. They’re just having to look at it a lot closer.”
Outside of men’s basketball and football, it doesn’t appear UW has retired numbers of any of its athletes.
Six football players have had their numbers retired, but only Ron Dayne, whose No. 33 was retired in 2007, played after 1962.
Other football retired numbers are: No. 80 of Dave Schreiner (1939-42); No. 40 of Elroy Hirsch (1942); No. 83 of Allan Shafer (1944); No. 35 of Alan Ameche (1951-54) and No. 88 of Pat Richter (1960-62).
Dayne was an obvious choice to join that list, as the school’s second Heisman Trophy recipient, joining Ameche.
But what’s the standard for number retirement in other sports?
Kaminsky, whose No. 44 will remain in circulation for future players, was a natural candidate for the honor after leading the Badgers to back-to-back NCAA Final Fours. He was the first UW player to win the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Oscar Robertson Trophy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award and was chosen 2015 national Player of the Year by The Associated Press, Sporting News and USA Today. He was just the third Big Ten Player of the Year in program history.
Sheffield noted there’s no shortage of viable candidates for number retirement in a variety of sports, particularly men’s and women’s hockey.
And even in volleyball, if UW decides to expand its number retirement policy, should Carlini be first in line, or are there others who came before her who should be honored first?
Should No. 18 of Sherisa Livingston, the program’s first first-team All-American, be retired first?
In Carlini’s case, another issue is the timing for any potential number retirement. Carlini, now in her first season of professional volleyball in Italy, figures to be involved for the next several years in the U.S. National Team training, which runs into September, just before the pro seasons begin in Europe.
“There are things that need to be worked out,” Sheffield said. “She will be properly recognized, I have no doubt about that. When the time gets here it will be exciting. Frank has been gone for two seasons, Lauren has been gone for one season.
“She’s one of the best athletes that have ever come through this athletic department and accomplished as much as anybody who’s ever come through here. She’ll be properly recognized.”