Wildcats finally to retire Jason Terry’s jersey

TUCSON, Ariz. — Apparently time does heal all wounds. Former Arizona All-American Jason Terry will have his No. 31 jersey retired after years of debate whether it should.

The Arizona athletics department on Saturday announced it will retire Terry’s jersey.

Terry was named National Player of the Year in 1999 and was a member of the 1997 national championship team.

The jersey will be retired on Feb. 19 when Arizona plays host to USC.

"I am extremely blessed and honored to have my jersey retired," Terry said in a statement released by the school. "It is not only a tribute to what I accomplished as a student-athlete at Arizona, but to all the people who helped me on my journey. I want to extend special thanks to President Hart, Greg Byrne, Lute Olson, Jim Rosborough, Jennifer Mewes, the Pac-12 Conference and all Wildcat fans. Bear Down!"

Terry currently plays for the Houston Rockets. He was a key member of the Dallas Mavericks’ title run in 2011.

Men’s basketball student-athletes who have received a major national "athlete of the year" honor are eligible to have their jerseys retired. Rather than retire individual numbers, Arizona Athletics retires jerseys with the number and the name of the player.

Terry’s qualifications never were in doubt. However, Arizona has long made it a policy to not retire jersey numbers for those athletes who had violated NCAA rules. He accepted money from agents in his senior year, leading Arizona to vacate its NCAA tournament appearance.

Graduation photo of former Arizona basketball players Jason Terry and Joseph Blair. Each earned their degrees last summer.

In 2000, Terry repaid Arizona $45,363 (the amount of the tournament appearance for forfeited tournament revenues).

It’s long been known Arizona has attempted to honor his jersey retirement, but had been voted against at least once. It had to be approved by the Pac-12 and then the NCAA and that has happened.

"What a well-deserved honor for Jason," Arizona Vice President for Athletics Greg Byrne said in the release. "When you think about the all-time greats of Arizona basketball, Jason’s name comes to mind immediately. We’re proud that Jason is an Arizona Wildcat. His name will go down as one of this program’s all-time greats, and this jersey retirement is a tremendous recognition of that sentiment."

Terry last summer earned his degree in Social Behavior and Human Understanding from Arizona.

Terry was a consensus first-team All-American and earned National Player of the Year honors from Sports Illustrated, CBS and Basketball Times, averaging 21.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

He was Arizona’s sixth man during the 1997 championship run.

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