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Syracuse football to restore jersey number 44, breaks ground for Plaza 44

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse University (SU) football program will restore jersey number 44, the number made famous through the play of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little.

“With the blessing of Jim Brown and Floyd Little, the number 44 is back. Syracuse University football Orange … we are restoring 44 back to the program,” Pete Sala, interim director of athletics, proclaimed Tuesday.

The school had retired jersey number 44 nearly 10 years ago.

Sala spoke Tuesday outside the SU’s Ensley Athletic Center during a groundbreaking ceremony for Plaza 44, which will eventually include bronze statues of Brown, Davis, and Little.

The Plaza is described as a “gathering area” outside the center, which houses an indoor practice facility for football and lacrosse.

“Plaza 44 honors Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, the greats who’ve worn the number and it will help us move forward and keep the rich tradition alive,” said Sala.

The jersey number has become a “national symbol” for the “greatness” of the program, Sala added.

A total of 25 football players have worn the famed jersey number 44, including Rob Konrad, who last wore the jersey between 1995 and 1998, according to cuse.com, the website of SU athletics.

SU graduates Jeff and Jennifer Rubin are providing the donation that’s financing Plaza 44.

When BJNN asked about the amount of the donation following the ceremony, Jeff Rubin declined to disclose it. He is a professor of practice in SU’s School of Information Studies, also known as the iSchool.

Rubin is also founder and president of Sidearm Sports, a company that operates in the iSchool in Hinds Hall. Sidearm Sports provides the software and technology that powers the websites, live stats, and video streaming for colleges, universities and high schools across North America, according to a description on the company’s website. 

Liz Liddy, SU’s interim vice chancellor and provost, at the Tuesday ceremony, described it as “the number one provider of college-athletic websites in the world with almost 800 clients.”

The idea for Plaza 44 originated at a national convention about college athletics, Rubin said during his remarks.

He was visiting with Brian Hanlon, master sculptor at Hanlon Sports Sculptures, because he was “mesmerized” by the life-size statue of Shaquille O'Neal at the Hanlon display.

One question led to another before Rubin realized “that Hanlon’s knowledge of and passion for the legend of 44 matched his,” according to a news release about Plaza 44 at cuse.com.

Rubin and Hanlon exchanged contact information and are working together on Plaza 44.

 

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

 

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