Devyn Marble angry at UI administration, not Iowa basketball
Fran McCaffery and the Iowa players shouldn't have to deal with this distraction
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s sad.
It’s highly emotional.
And, unfortunately, it’s a distraction for a head coach, and for a group of players and assistant coaches, who have done absolutely nothing wrong and have nothing to do with the controversy.
Those are all of my feelings after seeing what former Iowa basketball player Devyn Marble posted on Twitter Monday night, and with the fallout that it’s now causing.
Marble in response to being asked on Twitter why he doesn’t watch Iowa play anymore, especially with it being maybe the best Iowa team in 25 years, said the following:
“I’ll never watch another Iowa game in my life with the amount of disrespect that school has shown me and my family. Love the fans but I’m in no way affiliated or connected to the university.”
I’ll never watch another iowa game in my life with the amount of disrespect that school has shown me and my family. Love the fans but I’m in no way affiliated or connected to the university. https://t.co/8ylZg0iK4U
— Devyn Marble (@DevMarble) March 9, 2021
See what I mean about it being sad and emotional.
The son of the greatest father-son combo in the history of the Iowa men’s basketball program apparently is upset and resents the way in which the university honored his father, Roy Marble, before he passed away in 2015.
Roy Marble passed away from cancer on Sept. 11, 2015 at the age of just 48.
He was Iowa’s all-time leading scorer at the time of his death, and held that distinction until Iowa All-America senior center Luka Garza broke the record against Penn State this season.
It was announced after Iowa’s regular-season finale against Wisconsin this past Sunday that’s Garza’s number 55 will be retired after the season, and deservedly so, based on what he has accomplished, and based on the other numbers that have been retired.
Garza will finish his career almost certainly as a two-time consensus first-team All-American, and the Sporting News named him the National Player of the Year on Tuesday, and for the second consecutive season.
Garza is without question the most celebrated and decorated player in the history of the Iowa program, so if anyone deserves to have his number retired, it’s him.
Marble’s tweet makes no mention of Garza, or anybody associated with the Iowa basketball program.
It seems clear that Devyn Marble was referring to the Iowa administration, and more specifically, to Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta.
But unless Devyn Marble explains what he meant exactly, it’s left for interpretation.
And the way I interpret it is that Devyn Marble believes his father deserved more than the tribute he received from Iowa late in life.
Roy Marble was honored at halftime of Iowa’s 2015 regular-season finale against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Barta joined Roy Marble on the court and presented Marble with his No. 23 jersey.
But Iowa stopped short of retiring Roy Marble’s number, and Barta said at the time that he didn’t “envision retiring any more jerseys or numbers in any sports.”
“We haven’t done it in over 20 years,” Barta said. “We’ve developed this wall of honor concept that we’re going to play out. We did it in football, and we’re going to do it in men’s and women’s basketball, and I can see us doing it in other sports as well.”
Now barely six years later, Iowa has retired two numbers: Megan Gustafson’s number 10 in women’s basketball and soon to be Garza’s number 55.
So Barta either was just providing lip service in 2015 when he talked about the new approach to jerseys and numbers, or he failed to realize that anything is possible.
The odds of Iowa having two players as great, and as accomplished, as Gustafson and Garza in a five-year window was incredibly slim.
But it still happened and now Barta’s comments from 2015 seem a little misguided or insincere.
Barta backed himself into a corner by saying he didn’t envision retiring any more numbers or jerseys
His words from 2015 have even less meaning now since Iowa still to my knowledge hasn’t finished the wall of honor.
So this is the latest in what is becoming a pretty long list of public relation blunders for Barta.
The timing of Devyn Marble’s tweet was horrible with No. 5 Iowa preparing to play in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday in Indianapolis.
It’s not fair to Fran McCaffery, or to the Iowa players.
But it seems that Devyn Marble’s anger and frustration had been building until he finally hit the tweet button. Though he was only responding to a question on Twitter, Devyn Marble, obviously, knew that his tweet would gain a lot of attention.
The fact that Devyn Marble didn’t appear on the video tribute to Luka Garza this past Sunday was also very telling, and disappointing. But I think Devyn’s absence was in protest of the administration rather than Garza.
At least, I sure hope so because Luka Garza has always spoken highly of Roy Marble, and has made sure to give him his due respect.
If anyone should address Devyn Marble’s tweet, it’s Barta since it was directed at his administration, or so it seems.
Some have said in defense of Barta that Iowa’s two previous athletic directors – Bump Elliott and Bob Bowlsby – also didn’t retire Roy Marble’s number. So why is Barta to blame?
This isn’t necessarily about casting blame. But since the comparison was made, Elliott and Bowlsby, to my knowledge, never said that numbers or jerseys would no longer be retired, or promised to build something that hasn’t been built.
Barta addressed Devyn Marble’s tweet on a zoom conference Tuesday and said that Roy Marble didn’t meet the requirements to have his number retired, but without being specific. And that’s part of the problem. Nobody outside of Iowa’s inner circle seems to know what the criteria is for having a number retired in men’s basketball.
There is little consistency with how Iowa has retired numbers in men’s basketball, and that has to change.
For example, Ronnie Lester’s number 12 is retired, but B.J. Armstrong’s jersey No. 10 is retired, but not his number, as Iowa junior Joe Wieskamp currently wears number 10.
Another unfortunate part of this controversy is that Roy Marble’s name and legacy is now being tarnished on social media by those who are upset with Devyn for expressing his anger. Some of the comments under Devyn Marble’s tweet are just reprehensible and cross the line of decency.
It’s no secret that Roy Marble had some issues in his personal life, and that he made some poor choices.
Some Iowa fans are divided on whether Roy Marble deserves to have his number retired, and that’s okay. But just show some respect and common decency.
Roy Marble was until recently Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, and he played on some great teams in the late 1980s. But Roy also never made first-team All-Big Ten.
So again, it’s complicated and subjective.
I would’ve had no problem if Iowa had retired Roy Marble’s number before he died because it would have been a warm and heartfelt way of showing support to a Hawkeye great who was struggling to stay alive.
But Iowa, and Barta, felt otherwise, and then tried to justify their decision by saying numbers would no longer be retired.
Devyn Marble is upset and hurting right now. He loved his father, and apparently feels that his father deserved more recognition from the college they both attended.
I certainly respect Devyn Marble’s feelings and opinions.
I just feel bad for those who aren’t responsible for any this controversy because now they have to deal with the distraction.