Kanye West is a man that wears many hats (literally and metaphorically): rapper, music producer, “fashion” mogul, shoe designer, etc. The list goes on and on.
Add Chicago State supporter to that list.
Yeezy has a big weekend ahead of him. He’s performing on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, the same night he releases a new album. So how does one get ready for that kind of double whammy? By repping your favorite mid-major, of course.
If nothing else, Kanye never seems to forget his roots. His mother Donda was the Chair of the English Department at CSU, before Kanye himself briefly the attended the school. He dropped out at 20 to run down his musical dreams, inspiring the name of the album that launched the man you either love or love to hate.
Yeezy weathered some rough basketball seasons while he was on campus. The Cougars played in the defunct Mid-Continent Conference in the late 90s, winning seven combined games over three seasons from 1996-99 under four different coaches.
But hey, maybe Ye can play a role in a basketball resurgence at CSU. There are already local icons galore involved with the program, after former Chicago Bear and first-year athletic director Chris Zorich hired Lance Irvin as the next men’s basketball coach last month. The Irvin family runs the preeminent AAU program in the city, Mac Irvin Fire, and he talked to us about the importance of capitalizing on that local connection.
Infusing the program with local talent is one of Irvin’s other obvious draws.
He’s the son of Mac Irvin, the founder of local AAU powerhouse Mac Irvin Fire, which is currently coached by his brother Nick. The program has had players sign with Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Eastern Illinois and UAB over the past recruiting cycle, and currently features five-star wing Kahlil Whitney.
Leveraging the Chicago connection may be the key to whether Irvin can engineer a South Side revival, but he said it’s not the only place he’s searching for talent. Part of his pitch to recruits involves addressing the budgetary concerns the university has faced in recent years.
“I’m working the phones, just calling — I need some help. Chicago State is on the right path; it’s always been a good academic institution. If you ask people about the perception of Chicago State we have a great educational program, great school of pharmacy,” he said. “Those are the type of conversations I’m having with people all over the country, from California to Canada. It’s going in the right direction, we just have to keep moving and find the right fit. It’s a process and might take a little time since we’re growing and it still is a learning curve. Hopefully relationships will pay off.”
Give Yeezy a call, Coach Irvin.