New name will honor accomplished alums
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The University of Indianapolis will rename one of its residence halls in honor of two alumni who made national impressions in sports and in civic life.
UIndy’s New Hall will be renamed Ray & George Crowe Hall in honor of legendary high school basketball coach Ray Crowe, a 1938 graduate, and his younger brother George, a 1943 graduate who became a barrier-breaking Major League Baseball player. The new name will take effect this fall, and a dedication ceremony is planned.
The idea to honor the late Crowe brothers originated with the UIndy Board of Trustees, who unanimously approved the renaming at a meeting last week, university President Beverley Pitts said.
“We’re extremely proud to claim Ray and George Crowe among our graduates,” she said. “These men distinguished themselves, both here at the university and in later life, not only as great competitors but as mentors and role models for character, sportsmanship and citizenship.”
Ray Crowe, who died in 2003, was perhaps best known as coach of the Crispus Attucks High School basketball team that won state championships in 1955 and 1956, becoming the first African-American team in the nation to claim a state title and launching the career of NBA star Oscar Robertson. Ray was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968 and the University of Indianapolis Hall of Fame in 1987.
As a student at UIndy, then known as Indiana Central, Ray earned nine letters in basketball, track and baseball, as well as the education degree that informed his career as a teacher and coach. In 1966, he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, serving two terms and chairing the House Education Committee. He later led the Indianapolis parks department from 1976 to 1979 and served on the City-County Council from 1983 to 1987, meanwhile serving 18 years on UIndy’s Board of Trustees. Movie fans may recall Ray from the 1986 classic Hoosiers, in which he portrayed the coach of the opposing “State” team in the championship game.
George Crowe, named Indiana’s first Mr. Basketball while playing for Franklin High School, also became a three-sport standout at Indiana Central, which other siblings also attended. After serving overseas in the Army from 1943 to 1946, he began playing professional basketball and baseball. He was thought to be the first African-American player to sign with the Boston Braves organization, which he did in 1949, playing in the minors before making his big-league debut in 1952.
As an All-Star first baseman, George later played for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976, the University of Indianapolis Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004. He died in 2011.
The residence hall in question, which opened in 1988 on the north side of campus, houses 154 male and female students in separate wings. Rooms are double-occupancy, and most are arranged in quads with a common living area for the eight residents to share.
UIndy trustee and alumnus William Kiesel served with Ray Crowe on the Board of Trustees and, as a player for Southport High School, competed against those formidable Attucks teams. He spearheaded the effort to honor the Crowes.
“They demonstrated, first of all, that there is a spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork that is necessary to accomplish anything,” Kiesel said.