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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

2012 Cy's Favorite Alum: The Thompsons

Release: 10/25/2012
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AMES, Iowa - Gary Thompson is one of the most famous and accomplished athletic figures in the history of Iowa State University. There is no debate. There's also no debating the incredible passion that Thompson and his wife, Janet, have for Cyclone Athletics. Throughout the years, the Thompsons have worked vigorously to give back to the school which provided Gary a platform to become one of the state's most influential sport heroes. 

This year, the Iowa State Athletics Department recognizes the loyal and outstanding support from the Thompsons by naming Gary and Janet as recipients of the 2012 Cy's Favorite Alum award. Since 1955, the Iowa State University Athletics Department has recognized the loyalty and accomplishments of a graduate or friend of Cyclone Athletics.

"Gary and Janet's loyalty to Iowa State University is second to none," Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said. "They are true ambassadors of our great university and can always be counted on for both their financial and emotional support. They are the perfect couple to be recognized as Cy's Favorite alums."

Thompson's legacy is well-documented. Growing up in nearby Roland, Iowa, Thompson enrolled at Iowa State and helped put the basketball program on the national map during his tenure in Ames from 1954-57. The "Roland Rocket" became the first consensus first-team All-American in Iowa State men's basketball history, as the Cyclones appeared in the Associated Press' top-25 for the first time ever.

In his senior campaign, Thompson was the first Cyclone to top the 1,000-point mark in a career and his team literally slayed a giant. Thompson and the Cyclones recorded the biggest win in school history, defeating No. 1-ranked Kansas (39-37) led by Hall-of-Famer Wilt Chamberlain. To this day, it is the only time a Cyclone team knocked off the nation's top-rated team in men's hoops. The 1957 Big Seven Player of the Year had his No. 20 jersey officially retired where it hangs today in the rafters of Hilton Coliseum.

Thompson was also an All-American in baseball, leading the Cyclones to their first College World Series appearance (1957). He represented the United States on the 1959 Pan American Games Basketball team, playing alongside NBA legends Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. He played and coached with the Phillips 66 AAU basketball program for a number of years before forging a successful business career with Phillips in Ames.

Thompson was introduced to a future generation of Cyclone fans as a nationally-respected basketball television analyst in the 1970s. The Hall-of-Fame broadcaster worked with NBC, ABC, ESPN, Big Eight/12 and the Cyclone Television Network in a brilliant career spanning three decades. He was inducted into the inaugural ISU Letterwinners Athletics Hall of Fame class in 1997.

Gary and Janet are ever-present at Cyclone sporting events and are loyal supporters of Iowa State Athletics fund-raising efforts. Their gifts over the years have benefited numerous athletics projects, including the construction of the Jacobson Athletic Building where the "Gary Thompson Hall of Honor" bears his name. The Thompsons are members of the Cyclone Club, ISU Letterwinners Club, Clyde Williams Society and Order of the Knoll.

Gary's vast expertise has aided Iowa State while serving on the ISU Athletics Council, ISU Letterwinners Board/Hall of Fame selection committee and ISU Foundation Board of Governors. He's also been a valuable resource for the Iowa State Athletics Administration in coaching searches.

Thank You, Gary and Janet!
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