Sept. 8, 2010
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - North University Drive will be renamed John R. Wooden Drive prior to the Purdue football game against Western Illinois on Saturday.
University and athletics department officials will unveil a new street sign at the northeast corner of Ross-Ade Stadium - where North University Drive and Victory Drive intersect. The ceremony is set to begin at 11:05 a.m.
The portion of the road chosen passes alongside Lambert Fieldhouse and between Mackey Arena, the Drew and Brittany Brees Student-Athlete Academic Center, and Ross-Ade. A banner recognizing Wooden is on display on the west side of the Brees Center.
Members of the Purdue Board of Trustees approved the renaming in July, and the West Lafayette Board of Works followed suit in August.
"Coach Wooden has been a member of the Purdue family since he studied and played here 80 years ago," Purdue president France A. Córdova said at the time of Wooden's death June 4, 2010, at the age of 99. "He lived a life of true leadership, steady and amazing excellence, and unfailing kindness to others.
"There was no one like Coach Wooden. He leaves a lasting imprint."
A member of the Purdue men's basketball team from 1930 to 1932, Wooden was named National Player of the Year as a senior and became the first three-time consensus All-American in college basketball history. He also was a three-time first-team All-Big Ten and All-Midwestern selection during his time with the Boilermakers.
As the head coach at UCLA, Wooden became known as the "Wizard of Westwood" and gained lasting fame by winning 620 games in 27 seasons. His last dozen seasons saw Wooden win 10 NCAA titles, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973.
"While I know he was a Bruin, Coach Wooden never shed his Purdue ties," Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. "It is appropriate that North University Drive passes Lambert Fieldhouse, named after Coach Wooden's coach at Purdue, `Piggy' Lambert; Mackey Arena, which was dedicated against Coach Wooden's UCLA team in 1967; and the Brees Center, which symbolizes teaching and learning and were keys to Coach Wooden's life."
Wooden was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1961 and a coach in 1973, becoming the first person ever to be enshrined in the hall in both capacities. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2003, and was a member of the founding class of the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Saturday's game - being played Sept. 11 - is Military Appreciation Day and, fittingly, Wooden served as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II.