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Sitting in the Drumlins Country Club, Director of Athletics John Wildhack fielded questions about SU legend Gary Gait the day before his jersey was retired. Wildhack spoke about the legacy that Gait put into motion when he helped lead SU to three consecutive national championships (1988-90) while donning the No. 22. He talked about the dynasty that Gait helped start — between 1988 and 2004, the player who wore the famed No. 22 jersey earned All-American honors every single season.
Then Wildhack was asked about how Chase Scanlan fit into that picture, and whether his actions had tainted — or ruined — the legacy associated with the number.
“He didn’t ruin that legacy,” Wildhack said. “No. 22, that’s bigger than any one person. It’s the most famous number in the history of the sport, but it’s not about one person. It’s about all the people who’ve worn it.”
On Sunday, Gait became the first Syracuse men’s lacrosse player to have his jersey lifted into the Carrier Dome rafters. The No. 22 tradition that essentially began with Gait continued nearly every season through 2021, and Gait said it will return next year when top-ranked Class of 2022 recruit Joey Spallina wears it. Since Gait, the No. 22 has been worn by an SU player expected to be one of the best in the country.
Scanlan took the No. 22 jersey ahead of the 2020 season after transferring from Loyola. But midway through last season, Scanlan was arrested and charged with criminal mischief that allegedly stemmed from a domestic violence incident. He was suspended from the team and later entered the transfer portal. In the fall, he was arrested for a DWI.
No one has worn the No. 22 since Scanlan. But eight SU men’s lacrosse alumni, including Gait and three others who wore the number, told The Daily Orange they don’t believe Scanlan ruined the legacy of the number.
“He ruined the legacy of Chase Scanlan. I don’t think he’s ruined the number,” said Ric Beardsley, a four-time All-American from 1992-95.
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All condemned the alleged domestic violence and abuse that Scanlan put another person through, but they also emphasized there’s too much history from other great players for any single person to destroy the meaning of the number. The player represents themselves when they wear the number, Gait said, and “(Scanlan’s) going to have to live with that.”
Former No. 22 JoJo Marasco said Scanlan’s actions reflected poorly on SU as well as the number, but he thinks nothing could ever unwrite the accomplishments of the past. Some of the best players in collegiate lacrosse wore the jersey, he said. Marasco said he expects the number to be back and “strong” with Spallina next season.
Ryan Powell, another former No. 22, said the number is still strong and alive in the lacrosse world. Currently a lacrosse coach at Christian Brothers Academy, Powell said he sees top high school and college players around the country wearing the No. 22.
“There’s a ton of players that have rocked that number and carried themselves and conducted themselves in a great manner, and it’s made that number extremely strong,” Powell said. “It’s got to be an awesome honor to wear that number, and I think every kid would be honored to be able to slip that over their head.”
Charlie Lockwood, Todd Curry, Tom Marechek and Paul Carcaterra all echoed similar sentiments. Some have ideas about ways to tweak the No. 22 tradition, but none think it should end with Scanlan.
I think he ruined the legacy of Chase Scanlan. I don’t think he’s ruined the number.
Ric Beardsley, former Syracuse player
Carcaterra, an ESPN lacrosse analyst and SU player from 1994-97, said he’d like to see the number given to an upperclassman who has proven themselves instead of a freshman, similar to the way that Maryland handles its No. 1 jersey.
Brad Kotz, an SU player from 1982-85, said he’s not a fan of setting aside a specific jersey for a recruit. He said it could lead attacks or midfielders to try and prove they’re worthy of the honor by trying to score themselves, a concept that he said is disruptive to a team’s offense.
But regardless, the legacy is expected to carry on with Spallina. Gait said he “couldn’t think of a better guy to do that,” citing Spallina’s confidence and abilities as a team player.
“The number of people who wore 22 really carried the torch very well,” said Curry, an SU All-American from 1984-87 and the father of current player Brendan Curry. “Because there was so much success around people who wore 22 and it became an honor, I don’t see why they should not carry on that tradition of 22.”
The post ‘Bigger than any one person’: What remains of the No. 22 legacy after Chase Scanlan appeared first on The Daily Orange.