Big East honors Sandy Hook

January, 3, 2013

The media swarm has left Newtown, Conn.

The national attention has shifted to the fiscal cliff.

The politics from the Newtown tragedy will likely return when the new Congress debates an assault weapons ban sometime this winter.

But college basketball has an opportunity to continue to honor the memory of the 20 children and six adults tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the tranquil Connecticut town on Dec. 14.

UConn has done a wonderful job of honoring the victims and their families with a Sandy Hook patch on the men's and women's uniforms, a scholarship fund for siblings of the victims and other graduates of the elementary school that is up to $500,000 as of Saturday and a basketball clinic last week by the men's team.

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AP Photo/Jessica HillTyler Olander, Shabazz Napier and UConn were the first in the Big East to honor Newtown.

During a recent game, Providence shed its black-and-white attire for green uniforms, the school colors of Sandy Hook. The Friars have also sectioned off an area with 26 empty seats.

Now, the Big East has chimed in with a collective effort that shows the conference's unity in its final hours. This may go down as one of the lasting legacies of a great conference filled with old souls in the league office.

The Big East huddled in the week before Christmas to discuss what it could do to ensure the victims were honored appropriately. The consensus was for the men's and women's coaches, staff, players and officials, the latter two groups on their warm-ups, to wear green-and-white ribbons for the first 26 men's and women's games.

The Big East didn't publicize the move, but if you've watched any of the conference's games so far, you saw the staff wearing the ribbons.

Big East senior associate commissioner Paul Brazeau said the conference wanted to make sure it didn't upstage UConn. The conference wanted to respect how the Huskies had stepped up first to honor the victims and their families.

Brazeau said the schools don't have to stop wearing the ribbons if they choose.

"The first 26 games for both the men and women recognize the 26 losses in Newtown," he said. "Connecticut is in our community, near all of our teams. We wanted to do something league-wide to contribute to the memory and to keep everyone's mind on the topic."

Brazeau said there was tremendous cooperation from the home teams. The conference didn't have time to send out the ribbons to every team, so it sent them to the home teams and asked for their help in distributing them to their opponents, which is what happened at Pitt with Cincinnati on New Year's Eve.

College basketball has plenty of faults and failings, but one thing the sport has done well is drive awareness to causes and honor those who have fallen during the regular season, whether it is coaches wearing sneakers for cancer or no shoes for Samaritan's Feet or giving back to the military with on-site games. This display by UConn and the Big East may be one of the best.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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