University retires basketball jersey to honor Fr. Hoff

Ceremony for former University chancellor takes place before Creighton game | November 30, 2004

Xavier University, its men’s basketball players and fans paid special tribute to former President James E. Hoff, S.J., before the Dec. 2 game against a fellow Catholic, Jesuit institution, Creighton University. At approximately 7:15 p.m. a special jersey was unveiled making Hoff the fifth person in Xavier basketball history to be honored with a retired jersey.

Hoff died July 23 after a four-month battle with cancer. He was president of Xavier University from March 1991 to December 2000. Hoff came to Xavier from Creighton University, where he was vice president of university relations and president of The Creighton Foundation from 1983 to 1991.

Recognizing Father Hoff’s love for both universities, University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. selected Tuesday night’s game as the most appropriate time to honor Hoff. He was joined by Dawn Rogers, director for athletics, and Hoff’s two sisters, Janet Hayes and Marion Schmitz. In addition to unveiling the Hoff jersey, Xavier captains Keith Jackson and Brian Thornton presented basketballs autographed by the entire team and coaching staff to Hayes and Schmitz.

Hoff is the only non-player to have a jersey retired by Xavier University. Players with retired jerseys are David West (’03), Tyrone Hill ’(90), Byron Larkin (’88) and Jo Ann Osterkamp Henderson (’84).

During his tenure, Hoff oversaw the largest capital campaign in the University’s history and raised the funds to build the Cintas Center, which brought men’s basketball back to campus and provided a state-of-the-art meeting and banquet center for the University and the Cincinnati community.

Hoff also oversaw the move from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) to the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1995. Since that time, Hoff watched his beloved Musketeers play in five NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. At the 2004 men’s basketball banquet in April 2004, Hoff was inducted into the Xavier University athletic hall of fame.

Hoff was diagnosed with cancer during the 2003-2004 Atlantic 10 basketball tournament. Xavier upset undefeated St. Joseph’s in that tournament before going on to defeat Dayton for the A-10 championship and a trip to the NCAA Elite 8. Hoff was an inspiration to the team throughout that incredible run, attending every game and spending pre- and post-game time with the players and coaches.