The story of Jack Trice — Iowa State University’s first black student-athlete and namesake of its 61,500-capacity football stadium — is widely known today.
But the 1920s drama that had opposing teams refusing to play the Cyclones because of Trice, a team hotel denying him service on his only football road trip to Minnesota, and players during that game trampling him on the field — resulting in his death — at one point faded from collective college memory, according to the African American Registry.
It wasn’t jogged until an ISU student — who would become chairman of its journalism department — discovered a faded plaque in the school’s old gym in 1957. The Trice plaque sparked the student’s interest and prompted him to write a story about the now ISU legend.
In 1974 the student body voted unanimously to recommend its new stadium bear the Trice name — even raising enough money a few years later for a statue of him, erected between Beardshear Hall and Carver Hall from 1988 to 1997.
Despite the naming suggestion, school officials originally coined the facility “Cyclone Stadium,” according to the Registry.
But student and staff persistence prompted the facility to be renamed “Jack Trice Stadium” in 1997, and the statue was moved to outside the north stadium entrance.
Now Iowa State is planning to further honor Trice’s legacy as part of a required move of the statue because of construction of ISU’s new Sports Performance Center. Instead of temporarily relocating the statue, a committee of campus and student leaders have proposed permanently returning the Trice statue to central campus, according to ISU News Service.
The university will use the permanent relocation “as an opportunity to develop additional visible ways to recognize Jack Trice’s legacy in and around Jack Trice Stadium.”
“Moving the statue back to central campus is a wonderful way to lift up the prominence and recognition of Jack Trice’s legacy to the entire Iowa State community,” ISU President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement. “I appreciate the careful thought and wide input that helped us arrive at this important decision.”
She reported plans to convene another committee to help decide how to “further share Jack Trice’s story.”
The statue’s new home will be between Beardshear Hall and “the Hub,” a high-traffic area “that provides ideal visibility.” The statue will move in the coming weeks to a short-term “holding area” until its new site is ready in the summer, according to ISU News Service.
Further plans to celebrate Trice will be incorporated in the larger Student-Athlete Sports Performance Center project — a $90 million, two-year endeavor that began in April.
ISU Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said the statue relocation “provides an opportunity to significantly expand awareness of Jack Trice’s story beyond athletics.”
ISU Student Government President Julian Neely, in a statement, listed two primary ways the relocation matters.
“First, relocating it to central campus honors Trice’s scholastic excellence as a student-athlete,” he said. “Second, it provides an opportunity for a new Jack Trice tribute that we hope will be a larger display as part of the new plaza and sports performance center.”
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