On Thursday evening, Marquette basketball head coach Steve Wojciechowski issued a statement regarding Haanif Cheatham's Instagram picture of his locker bearing the #24.
For those of you that can't get the image to resolve well enough to read, Wojo's statement says the following:
"We would like to clarify to the Marquette men's basketball community the recent news regarding the assignment of No. 24 for next season and clear up any confusion that may exist externally regarding the issues that have developed this week.
"The decision was the result of an internal miscommunication and it wasn't our intent to disregard the accomplishments of George Thompson or any of our other great players whose banners hang in the arena.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for what George and all of the previous Marquette players have meant to the program, the University and the greater Milwaukee community. Their individual contributions have collectively made Marquette the special place it is for a player to receive an elite-level education and competitive experience."
And thus, Cheatham will wear #25 in the fall.
Considering that there were two fancy plaques made for Cheatham's locker - one for his name and one with the history of #24 - it's been well more than a week since the decision to let Cheatham wear #24 was made. You have to ask him what number he wants to wear, then order the plaques, then receive them, then hang them up. This wasn't a snap decision that was made all willy-nilly, and ultimately, that's the goofy part of the whole thing. In his blog post on Cheatham switching to #25, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that he was unable to get any clarification on the miscommunication, and further than that, the university has no further comment on this issue.
All of this doesn't change the fact that Marquette has retired nine of the 36 numbers that the NCAA will allow players to wear. Not only does that limit currently players to a selection of just 27 numbers for their jersey, it also hampers Marquette's ability to retire any numbers in the future. For example, any discussion of retiring #22 for Jerel McNeal seems foolish on some level because it just continues to shrink the available pool of numbers.
That's why I had hoped the Cheatham news had marked a change in philosophy from the athletic department. That's not the case, though, so I suppose we'll just have to come to terms with someone in the near future will pull Jimmy Butler's #33 over his head.