(This is part of a special series on getting “Justice for the Judge.”)

Kinnick StadiumKinnick Stadium Recognition

Every good Hawkeye fan knows that Iowa’s home football venue, Kinnick Stadium, is named after 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, Nile Kinnick. The stadium was originally named Iowa Stadium, but it was renamed in Kinnick’s honor in 1972.  What many Hawkeye fans may not know is that in 1972, there was a substantial movement to rename Iowa Stadium…Kinnick-Slater Stadium!

The original recommendation for Iowa Stadium’s new name was designed to honor both Nile Kinnick and Duke Slater.  The president of the University of Iowa at the time proposed the idea of Kinnick-Slater Stadium, but in the end, it didn’t happen. The Nile Kinnick supporters won the day, Slater was nudged out, and Kinnick stood alone on the renamed stadium.

Forty years later, Duke Slater is nowhere to be found at Kinnick Stadium. His likeness can’t be seen anywhere. His name isn’t mentioned anywhere. And few Hawkeye fans today remember the Kinnick-Slater Stadium proposal, which was another indication of just how revered Slater was in his day. Does that seem wrong to anyone else? Think about it – four decades after a plan to partially rename the stadium after Slater was scuttled, Duke Slater gets no permanent recognition at the stadium at all.

In 2012, the University of Iowa played a football game wearing throwback jerseys to honor Slater’s 1921 squad.  It was a great tribute, but Duke Slater should have something more permanent.  A guy who almost had the stadium named after him deserves better than to be shut out from the grounds completely.

Justice for the Judge

How can this be rectified? There are several ways to go about this, any of which would be acceptable. This is my least concrete proposal…in other words, I’m open to ideas. Suggestions I’ve made in the past range from creating a simple plaque that could be put on one of the walls at Kinnick (that’s my preferred idea) to planting a small tree or bush near the stadium as a memorial.  But any number of alternative tributes could also work.

Any such recognition can be modest and low-key; it doesn’t need to detract from Nile Kinnick’s stadium.  Slater certainly doesn’t need a 12-foot bronze statue outside Kinnick or anything like that.  But some kind of permanent tribute is absolutely needed.  The university chose not to name the stadium after Duke Slater, but he still deserves some kind of meaningful recognition there. It’s just another way to acknowledge of his profound influence on the athletic department at the University of Iowa.

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