Ray Martin led the Irish in assists during the 1976-77 season.

Never Too Late To Meet The President

May 10, 2016

Thirty-three years after helping NC State claim the 1983 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship with the memorable upset of Houston, former University of Notre Dame guard and Wolfpack assistant coach Ray `Dice’ Martin visited the White House to celebrate the legendary victory.

“It was surreal and emotional,” Martin said after the visit. “I said to my wife `not bad for a little kid from the Queen’s Bridge projects in New York to meet the leader of the free world.'”

The final moments of NC State’s win in 1983 are entrenched in March Madness history. Dereck Whittenburg’s desperation heave slammed through the hoop by Lorenzo Charles for the winning basket followed by head coach Jim Valvano running through the on-court celebration trying to figure out who he should hug first.

The traditional visit to the White House to celebrate the national championship did not take place after the game due to the financial costs to the program (head coach Jim Valvano did meet with President Ronald Reagan individually).

The make up visit was prompted by Thurl Bailey who played on the championship team at NC State and for the Utah Jazz in the National Basketball Association. Helped by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the `83 Wolfpack were finally received at the White House by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on May 9, 2016.

“I found out (about the trip) about a week and half ago,” Martin said. “Thurl Bailey has been working on this ever since we were not able to go and see the President in 1983. He wrote a letter a letter to President Obama and said he felt could the team could not complete their journey because something was missed by not meeting the President.”

The 1983 NCAA Championship game was not the only legendary NCAA basketball moment Martin has taken part in during his long basketball career. As a freshman at Notre Dame on January 19, 1974, Martin drew an offensive foul on UCLA’s Keith Wilkes in the game’s final minutes, setting up Dwight Clay’s game-winning shot that ended UCLA’s college basketball record 88-game win streak.

“I’m truly blessed to be involved in two of the top five events in college basketball as a player and as a coach,” Martin said.

Martin played in 91 games during his Notre Dame career. A promising senior campaign came to an end in the seventh game of the season against Indiana when he suffered a career-ending ankle injury.

Martin went straight into coaching after graduation, starting out as the freshman team and varsity assistant coach at Harvard under former Irish assistant Francis McLaughlin and has been in the coaching profession ever since. His most recent position was the associate head coach at Grambling in 2015-16.

For more on Ray Martin, see this 2014 feature when Martin returned to campus as an assistant coach at Grambling.

RAY MARTIN NOTES: In the 1974 UCLA upset victory, was the lone substitution by head coach Digger Phelps in the game’s final 3:22, helping the Irish outscore the Bruins 12-0 to end the game … Martin backed up Dwight Clay at point guard during his sophomore season (1974-75), then started his junior season at the point (1975-76) and led the team in assists … winner of the team’s player-maker award in 1975-76 and named the team’s best defensive player in 1974-75.