LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Surrounded by past players, fans and family, former University of Louisville basketball head coach Denny Crum cut a red ribbon officially dedicating the residence hall honoring his legacy.
The ceremony outside the doors of the brand-new residence hall was standing-room only, ending with a standing ovation for the now 85-year-old man who left his mark on the university.
"I think this building represents Denny Crum: excellence," UofL men's basketball head coach Kenny Payne said.
The five-story residence hall features a game room, theater room, outside deck area and 67 units that will house UofL students and student-athletes. Walking through the front doors on Thursday, a large screen played some of the best moments and highlights from Crum's career with the Cardinals.
As the head coach from 1971 to 2001, Crum won 675 games leading the Cards, including six trips to the Final Four and two national championships.
Payne played under Crum for four years, helping the Cards win a national championship in 1986. He said he took much more away than wins on the hardwood.
"He changed my life," Payne said when asked what Crum meant to him. "All the lessons that I've learned started here. Being a good teammate, being a good person, a person of character and about winning. Not just winning on the court, but off the court. These are lessons I'm trying to pass on to these young people. It started from him."
Crum didn't speak, but took pictures with fans and would give an occasional wink and soft smile.
"He doesn't say it, he never will say that much," Crum's wife Susan said. "I know it means a lot to him. It meant a lot when Vince [Tyra] told us and surprised him with it [building plans] a couple years ago. I'm thrilled to see it happen and I know he is too."
Although Crum may not admit how much he means to UofL, his impact was echoed by former players, fans and university leaders.
"For many years and many people, Denny Crum has been the face of the University of Louisville," Interim university president Lori Stewart Gonzalez said.
Although his former players, fans and the entire community has always shown their appreciation for Crum, Thursday felt like the university solidified its love for the Hall of Fame coach.
"To me this is way overdue, this should have been done, but thank God it's happening now," Darrell Griffith said. “Everything that is good always surfaces; Coach Crum is a good person. What he's meant to this community, you can't deny it."
Roger Burkman said Crum "is truly a legend we should never take for granted."
A legacy appreciated, loved and now honored in brick and mortar.