There is a great week of Aggie basketball comin’ up at the end of the month. Ole Pete is jumpin’ for joy at the reunions that are coming and poppin’ his buttons in pride for the event that will precede it.
To pin it down in specifics, Thursday, Jan. 29 is the night of Academic Honors in the Pan Am. The event began back in the late 1990s when then Athletics Director Jim Paul put the emphasis back on student in the student-athlete equation. All of the athletes from all of the sports who have earned a 3.0 or better grade points average will be walking on to the Pan Am parquet floor to receive their medal and the applause from the gathered Aggie fans. The other schools that go to this trouble usually bury the event in a small separate ceremony or have it held at each teams own home event. Not the Aggies, we are proud of this and want to show the world what is going on with academics and the student-athletes. Every year the number of scholarship holders getting top grades has grown and the number of those earning degrees grows as well.
The day after the academic honors ceremony there will be another reunion of championship teams in advance of the Ring of Honor ceremony that will be held the night of Jan. 31. Pete’s two favorite men’s basketball teams have been invited back to relive the past and celebrate what is going on now. The 1979 NCAA entrant and the 1999 NCAA team will have representatives back in town. The 1979 team was coached by Ken Hayes and had Slab Jones, Robert Gunn, Notie Pate and Chuck Goslin among the teammates. They earned a first round berth in the NCAAs after battling Larry Bird and
The 1999 squad was a hybrid of transfers from a school that dropped sports and younguns left over for Lou Henson to reorganize. Old Coach was just in his second year back when he got NMSU back in the Big Dance. Billy Keys and Charles Gosa, Aaron Brodt and 3-point gunslinger Brad Bestor were the mainstays along with Daveeno Hines and Mikko Noopila. These guys will have a social on Friday and then be a part of the Saturday luncheon ceremony and game that night. That old sodbuster Bump Elliott is putting this together. These reunions are the best way to get past athletes involved in the department as fans, backers and friends. Pete loves to welcome Aggies back to the campfire, these amigos have been gone too long and I can’t wait to greet them again.