Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kermit Washington - American University's Favorite Son

While many college sports programs regularly send numerous athletes to the professional ranks in multiple sports year after year, such is not the case for my alma mater - American University.  American is a small school in Washington DC with no football program and no baseball program.

A member of the Patriot League, American University competes in Division 1 NCAA basketball and has since 1966, but it wasn't until 2008 that AU finally earned a trip to the "Big Dance" (losing to Tennessee in the first round).  AU would return to the tourney in 2009 ultimately losing to Villanova (despite having a double digit lead into the second half).

While AU has had its share of big name coaches (Gary Williams who would go on to win a national championship with Maryland and Jim Lynam who would coach the Philadelphia 76ers) only one AU player would make it to the NBA - Kermit Washington.  Unfortunately Kermit Washington is best know for "the punch" - an unfortunate brawl where he punched  Rudy Tomjonovich - which largely defined and derailed both men's careers.

Before that incident Kermit looked to have a bright future in the NBA - earning All American honors while at American and a first round selection by the Lakers in the 1973 draft.  As you can see from the back of Kermit's rookie card, he became the 7th player in NCAA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds for his collegiate career, joining Dr. J, Bill Russell, Artis Gilmore and Elgin Baylor.  In fact, he needed 39 points in his last college game to accomplish the 20/20 average - and he scored 40.

As an AU grad, one of my main goals at this year's national sports card convention was to obtain Kermit's rookie card (and a few other samples from his playing days).  They are not expensive and I managed to land all of these for less than the price of a can of soda.  

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