Throughout the discussions of a proposed $15 million dormitory for men’s and women’s basketball players at N.C. State, the school has referred to the four-story building as Case Commons.
We can hope it is only a working name.
For a couple of reasons, a new building on campus should not be named after the legendary coach Everett Case, whose innovative ways and winning teams put N.C. State men’s basketball on the national map in the late 1940s and into the ’50s. There is no doubting the lasting impact Case had not only in Raleigh but throughout North Carolina and in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Yet one building on campus named after Case is enough. There forever remains the stain of two NCAA probations under Case, the second one of which resulted in four years of purgatory for the entire athletics department. The penalty for violations in the 1956 recruiting of Jackie Moreland resulted in one of the stiffest NCAA penalties until SMU’s football program received the death penalty in 1987.
That does not mean the current Case Academic Center, which sits outside Reynolds Coliseum and includes a Case Dining Hall, should be renamed. It just means future buildings should not be named for Case.
Perhaps it is time to name a building after a former N.C. State athlete.
There certainly are enough N.C. State buildings named for former coaches and athletic administrators.
The Willis Casey Aquatic Center is named for the former swimming coach and athletic director. Casey was the swimming coach from 1946-69 and athletic director from 1969-86. Doak Field is named after Charles “Chick” Doak, who was the program’s baseball coach from 1924-39. The J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center is named in honor of the man who coached tennis from 1968-81.
The only building on campus known to be named after a former athlete is Thompson Theatre, which honored former baseball and football star Frank Thompson when it was called Thompson Gymnasium. N.C. State played basketball in the gym from 1925-46 and named it in honor of the former athlete who was killed in France during World War I.
As for former athletes who deserve the honor of a building in his or her name, the discussion begins and ends with another Thompson ... David Thompson. He remains arguably the greatest athlete in N.C. State history and the highest-profile athlete in Wolfpack annals.
Few would dispute that Thompson was the best player in ACC history, leading N.C. State to an undefeated season in 1973 and an NCAA championship in 1974. He was a three-time ACC player of the year, three-time first-team All-American and 1975 national player of the year.
His high-flying act, which led to the invention along with teammate Monte Towe of the alley-oop play, also earned him the nickname “Skywalker.” Since Thompson came back in 2003 to earn a sociology degree, it is time for a building to be named in his honor.
Skywalker Commons has a nice ring to it.