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Irish Insights

Associated Press
Richard "Digger" Phelps, former Notre Dame coach, at a game in 2008.

Digger Phelps will join Notre Dame's Ring of Honor

Digger Phelps will become the first coach to join Notre Dame's Ring of Honor.

Phelps will be inducted into the ring at halftime of the Irish's home game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 19, the university announced Friday.

The date holds special meaning for Phelps and the program. It will be the 40-year anniversary of when Phelp's led the Irish to a 71-70 victory over UCLA, ending the Bruins' 88-game winning streak.

"It was unexpected and I was shocked when (Notre Dame coach) Mike (Brey) told me that I was going into the Ring of Honor," Phelps said in a press release. "Obviously looking back on my 20 seasons here, this honor is a reflection on the whole program and the 56 guys I coached and the 56 guys who graduated from Notre Dame.

"It also is about the 4,000 students that we used to get for every home game that made this thing crazy, and of course, it is about the fans. It's a combination for me of all of those factors that gave me 20 great years here at this place."

Phelps, who is a college basketball analyst at ESPN, went 393-197 in 20 years with the Irish. He led Notre Dame to 14 NCAA tournament berths, and his 1977-78 team made the program's only Final Four appearance.

The UCLA victory was one of seven times Notre Dame upset a No. 1-ranked team under Phelps. The Irish also defeated San Francisco (93-82 in 1977), Marquette (65-59 in 1978), DePaul (76-74 in double-overtime), Kentucky (67-61 in 1980), Virginia (57-56 in 1981) and North Carolina (60-58 in 1981).

Phleps will join former Irish men's players Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley and Luke Harangody and former women's players Ruth Riley and Skylar Diggins, who will be inducted on Nov. 16 when the Irish play host to Valparaiso, in the Ring of Honor.

"It is an honor for me to be here as the head coach at Notre Dame and to see him be inducted into the Ring of Honor," Brey said. "For all that he has done for Notre Dame basketball, it is very fitting that he joins the other great ones who are already up there. There is no bigger ND basketball fan than Digger Phelps."