What do Schools Hang a Banner for?
*For this article 2017 postseason appearances will not be referenced because banners for this past season have not been hung yet
Whenever I go to a college basketball game and look up in the rafters of various arenas I always think to myself what is “worthy” of hanging a banner? It is pretty universal among basketball programs to retire jerseys of alumni who went on to play in the NBA or were one of the best players in the history of their respective program, and likewise it is safe to assume schools with final fours and National Championship banners always choose to display them. However, for this article I have chosen to focus on why certain programs hang banners for making the postseason while others only hang them for wins, and why some programs only hang banners for making certain postseason tournaments. To try to come up with some sort of answer or rule to the question “What do schools hang a banner for?” I have examined 10 programs (Oregon State, Pitt, East Carolina, San Jose State, Loyola Chicago, Loyola Maryland, Bowling Green, The Citadel, Chicago State, and Delaware State) from different conferences, geographical areas, and level of program (high, mid, and low majors). I will give a brief breakdown of each team’s postseason history, what banners are hanging in their arenas, and at the end I will summarize the information, and my own opinions, and describe any trends I noticed.
Oregon State (High Major, Corvallis Oregon, PAC 12)– The beavers NCAA appearances total is at 14. The team from Corvallis has five elite eight’s and two final fours. In addition to the NCAA tournament OSU has appeared in the NIT and CBI tournaments four times each. The Beavers captured the 2009 CBI title. Inside Gill Coliseum there are banners hanging in the rafters for the final fours, and right to the left of the final fours is the 2009 CBI Champions banner proudly displayed. They also have the usual banners for elite eights, sweet sixteens, and NIT appearances.
Loyola Chicago (Mid Major, Chicago Illinois, Missouri Valley Conference) – The ramblers have made the NCAA tournament five times, the NIT four times, and the CBI once. They won the 1963 NCAA beating teams such as Illinois, Duke, and Cincinnati, and recording to this date the largest margin of victory in a 69-point win over Tennessee Tech in the opening round. Not many mid majors can boast a final four, let alone a national championship. Even if it is over 50 years old that is still very impressive. A side note I have been to Gentile Arena, and touched the national championship banner it was so cool. I would be surprised if there is another school that hangs championship banners low enough for fans to touch them and take pictures with them. Loyola Chicago has also captured the 2015 CBI title. They chose note to hang the CBI banner despite winning the entire tournament.
San Jose State (Mid Major, San Jose California, Mountain West)– The Spartans have made the NCAA tournament 3 times, the NIT once, and the CBI once. They have not won a game in any of those, but they have hung a banner for all of them.
East Carolina (High Major, Greenville North Carolina, American Athletic Conference) – East Carolina has five postseason appearances. When the pirates make the postseason they either lose in the first round or win the entire tournament. During their two NCAA tournaments they were bounded in the first round, and in the 2011 and 2014 CIT the same occurred. However, in the 2013 CIT the pirates captured the title in stunning fashion when they hit the buzzer beater over Weber State on the wildcats’ home floor to capture the championship. Inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum there are banners that celebrate the two NCAA appearances, three CIT appearances, and the CIT Championship.
Loyola Maryland (Mid Major, Baltimore Maryland, Patriot League) – The Greyhounds have made the NCAA tournament twice in 1994 and 2012, and the CIT once in 2013. They have not won an NCAA tournament game, but did win two games in the CIT to advance to the elite eight. Loyola has hung banners for their two NCAA appearances in Reitz Arena.
Pittsburgh (High Major, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, ACC)– The Panthers have appeared in the NCAA tournament 26 times. They have one final four, three elite eight’s, seven sweet 16’s, and two pre-tournament era championships. They have also made the National Invitation Tournament nine times, and the CBI once where they won it in 2012 beating Washington State in three games in the finals. Pitt chose to hang banners for all Pre-tournament era championships, the final four, elite eights, and four of the seven sweet 16’s. They also have two banners showcasing all years they made the NCAA tournament as well as one for NIT years. This seems to be common practice for other high major schools as well. The panthers however, chose not to hang a banner for the College Basketball Invitational Championship in 2012.
Chicago State (Low Major, Chicago Illinois, WAC) – The cougars have a banner hanging in the Emile and Patricia Jones Convocation Center from their lone trip to the Postseason as a program, the 2013 CIT. They were awarded a bid to the 2013 CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament (CIT) in a very interesting situation. In 2013 they were a member of the now defunct Great West Conference. The GWC only had 5 members, and since they did not have the minimum 8 members the NCAA would not give the conference tournament winner an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but instead the conference tournament winner got an auto bid to the CIT. To make this story even more odd the cougars actually finished in last place in the regular season by going 11-22 overall and 3-5 in conference that year, but because they won the conference tournament they are now the only team in CIT history to be awarded a bid with a losing record (the CIT has a minimum record of .500 to be eligible). Once they got to the CIT they lost in the first round 80-69 at UIC.
Citadel (Mid Major, Charleston South Carolina, SoCon)– The bulldogs only postseason appearance in program history was in the 2009 CIT tournament. They lost their opening round game at Old Dominion to the eventual champions of the inaugural tournament 67-59. The Citadel chose to display their banner for appearing in the Collegeinsider.com postseason tournament in the rafters of McAlister Fieldhouse.
Bowling Green (Mid Major, Bowling Green Ohio, MAC)– The Falcons have made the NCAA tournament four times, the National Invitation Tournament 14 times, and the CIT twice. They have banners hanging in the Stroh Center for all four NCAA tournament appearances, and all NIT appearances. An interesting thing to note is they have won an NCAA game and 6 NIT games, however, all the banners are the uniform NCAA or NIT except the 1945 NIT advertising they were the runner up. Bowling Green does not publicize their wins in these tournaments. The falcons also chose not to hang banners for their CIT appearances including in 2015 when they won a game.
Delaware State (Low Major, Dover Delaware, MEAC)– Delaware State has made the postseason four times. The NCAA once (2005), NIT twice (2006 and 2007), and the CBI once (2015). The hornets lost in the opening round of all tournaments with the exception of the 2006 NIT where they beat the lumberjacks of Northern Arizona in the first round. They have a banner that says 2005 men’s national championship. I’m assuming this is signifying their 2005 NCAA trip when they faced Duke. They also have a 2006 NIT banner, but no 2007 NIT banner or 2015 CBI banner.
The trends I have noticed in doing all of this research about banners is that there really are no trends to programs choosing to hang banners. For example, you would think that high major programs do not want to display banners from “lower tier tournaments such as the CBI and CIT”, and this is shown through Pitt, however, teams like Oregon State and East Carolina of high major conferences both have banners celebrating championships in their tournaments in the rafters of their arena’s. Likewise, one would think that mid major programs want to advertise any postseason success they have, but Loyola Maryland did not put up a banner for its 2013 CIT run. If we thought that mid majors would hang banners for all postseason we definitely think that low majors have to hang banners. While some do like Chicago State others like Delaware State choose to not display a CBI banner. In the end each program has its own agenda of what they feel is important to display to the home and visiting fans, and what they want to publicly celebrate for years to come.