April 11, 2024 

Caitlin Clark’s No. 22 to hang in the rafters at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Hawkeye team recognized in end-of-the-year celebration

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The number 22 has seen a lot of great moments in Iowa women’s basketball history. All-American Samantha Logic wore it on her way to become the Hawkeyes’ second first-round WNBA pick in 2015. Another All-American, Kathleen Doyle, wore it during her run to become the Hawkeyes’ second Big Ten Player of the Year in 2020. And then there was the 6-foot guard from West Des Moines, Iowa.

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Caitlin Clark will be the last Hawkeye to ever wear No. 22, as Iowa athletics director Beth Goetz officially announced Wednesday that Clark’s jersey will be retired. 

“We always knew your jersey would be hanging in the rafters. It is a privilege for me to now make that official. You will be the last to wear No. 22,” Goetz said, to the delight of more than 7,000 fans who gathered at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a celebration honoring the team’s record-breaking season.

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In her four-year career at Iowa, Clark led the Hawkeyes to three straight Big Ten Tournament  Championships and two straight Final Fours and National Championship game appearances. Along the way, she broke a whole bunch of points and assists records in front of even more fans.

“It’s super incredible, something I’m very thankful for and obviously I’ve had some amazing teammates over the course of my four years here,” Clark told the crowd Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of really good 22s to come before me and play for this program, whether it’s Kathleen Doyle or Sam Logic, so that number holds a lot of weight, far beyond my name, and I guess I’m just really grateful and it will be a special day when it happens, for sure.”

Clark concluded her illustrious college career with 3,951 points — the most of any women’s or men’s Division I player — 1,144 assists and 990 rebounds. A four-time first team All-American and three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, she swept all of the National Player of the Year awards for the second straight year.

Clark’s No. 22 will join just two other Iowa women’s players in the rafters — Michelle Edwards, whose No. 30 was retired in 1990, and Megan Gustafson, whose No. 10 was retired in 2020.

Caitlin Clark‘s No. 22 will join Michelle Edwards’ No. 30 and Megan Gustafson‘s No. 10 in the rafters at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. This year’s Final Four banner will also join the 2023 banner. (Photo credit: Angie Holmes / The Next)

Nicknamed “Ice” for her cold-blooded shooting and defensive prowess, Edwards led the Hawkeyes to three NCAA Tournament appearances and two Big Ten titles from 1984–88 under Hall of Fame head coach C. Vivian Stringer. Gustafson, who led the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten Tournament title and Elite Eight appearance in 2019, was named Naismith and AP Player of the Year after scoring 1,001 points on 70% shooting with just one three-pointer her senior year. Like Clark, Gustafson learned her jersey would be officially retired during a year-end celebration her senior year.

Barbara Wilson, who was named the University of Iowa’s 22nd president in 2021, told the crowd Wednesday of her early conversations with Clark about their shared number. 

“Some of my most cherished memories in the last two years have been with these amazing women,” Wilson said. “I share the number 22 with Caitlin, and we’ve talked about that quite a bit. The first time I mentioned it to her, she said, ‘President Wilson, it’s fate,’ and I said, ‘yeah, it is fate.’”

Fans gather to celebrate the Iowa women’s basketball team Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo credit: Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen, USA TODAY NETWORK)

Changed the Game

Upon entering the arena for the celebration Wednesday, fans were given posters with a picture of the team that simply said, “Changed the Game: 2023-2024 Iowa Women’s Basketball.” 

The season began with an exhibition game against DePaul at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City that drew more than 55,000 fans to the Hawkeyes’ football stadium. The team then played each home game in front of a sold-out crowd of around 15,000 people at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And the sold-out crowds weren’t just in Iowa City. Besides selling out every home game, the Hawkeyes played in 37 of 39 away games that were either sold out or had an attendance record. This year’s Big Ten Tournament in the 19,000-seat Target Center in Minneapolis was sold out for the first time in its history.

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Fans who were unable to get tickets tuned in to watch in record-breaking numbers. This season alone, Iowa was a part of the most watched women’s basketball games on seven different major networks. The Iowa-UConn game in the Final Four was ESPN’s highest audience for any basketball game ever, and the National Championship game against South Carolina brought in 18.7 million viewers, peaking at 24 million viewers.

Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague read a proclamation Wednesday night, declaring April 10, 2024, as “Iowa Women’s Basketball Day” in Iowa City. The proclamation not only celebrated the current team, but those who have paved the way in women’s sports.

“We collectively continue to celebrate the wonderful work of Dr. Christine Grant, a national leader, who elevated the position of women’s sports following the adoption of Title IX and recently 50 years of women’s athletics at the University of Iowa,” he read.

He also cited a recent study by Think Iowa City and its partners that reported “the impact of this women’s basketball team. They have generated an additional $82.5 million of economic impact on the community and this state [over the last three seasons].”

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More than just Caitlin

While Clark is certainly a top draw not only for Iowa fans, but for sports fans across the world, the entire team, especially the senior class, captivated the hearts of the Hawkeye faithful.

Center Sharon Goodman won the Elite 90 Award for the second straight year presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Guard Molly Davis, who transferred to Iowa from mid-major Central Michigan last season, won over fans with her toughness, grit, and yes, her headband. 

 “Coming from a place where there’s about 1,500 people in the stands to 15,000 a game, it’s really special and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Davis said Wednesday night.

Iowa’s Molly Davis waves to the crowd during a celebration of the Iowa women’s basketball team Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo credit: Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen, USA TODAY NETWORK)

Guard Gabbie Marshall set the record for most games in Iowa women’s basketball history with 166, and guard Kate Martin was right behind her at 163.

“There’s absolutely no one our tenacious Gabbie can’t defend and there’s no better veteran leader in the country than Kate Martin,” Goetz said, adding, “Kate, I have an office right down the hall open when you are ready for me to hire you.”

Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder credited the University of Iowa’s history of supporting women and the fans who have shown up to support them. 

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“I’m thankful that I work at a university that represents the value of women’s leadership. When I look at our president [Wilson] and our athletic director [Goetz] and understand they have two of the highest jobs here at the University of Iowa, and are unbelievably strong women leaders, it makes me feel so good that we have that example to live by,” she said. 

As the Caitlin Clark era ends at Iowa, Bluder hopes the momentum keeps going not only at Iowa, but in all women’s sports. 

“From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you, I value you. I wish I could give every one of you a hug,” she told the crowd. “Please come back next year. Promise me that you will fill Carver-Hawkeye Arena again next year.”

In her last bid goodbye to Carver, Clark stayed an additional 40 minutes after the celebration ended to sign autographs and take photos with fans of all ages.

But her basketball career is far from over; on Monday night, Clark is expected to be drafted No. 1 in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, where she would join forces with last year’s No. 1 pick, center Aliyah Boston. Though her impact is already unquantifiable, Clark leaves Carver-Hawkeye with the chance to continue pushing boundaries, on and off the court.

Written by Angie Holmes

Angela Holmes is the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) reporter for The Next. Based in the Midwest, she also covers the Big Ten and Big 12.

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