Morgantown, W. Va. – Tuesday evening, nearly all televisions in the Mountain State were tuned to the Big XII Conference matchup between the #10 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers and the Kansas Jayhawks, the number one ranked team in the nation.
Despite the hype leading up to the game, many of the Mountaineer faithful who had purchased tickets to the nationally televised event were unable to attend what was destined to become one of the greatest wins in Mountaineer basketball history – a sudden winter storm created hazardous road conditions throughout much of the state.
Among those unable to reach the WVU Coliseum was the person scheduled to sing the National Anthem.
Finding themselves without a singer just minutes from tipoff, university officials reached out to an unlikely source – a University Police Officer who was tasked with working security during the game.
Clad in his blue uniform, gun dangling at his hip and radio pinned to his shoulder, Officer Carlton Smith stood at midcourt and raised the microphone to his mouth — roughly a minute later, the crowd had been brought to a cheer and chants of “U-S-A” were filling the basketball arena.
As for Officer Smith, he simply went back to work.
The night ended with West Virginia University topping off the number one ranked team in the nation by a score of 74-63 and though the WVU graduate and former American Idol contestant, was successful in singing the “Star Spangled Banner,” he and his fellow officers were no match for the tide of cheering fans who stormed the court in celebration following the historic Mountaineer victory.
Following the game, Smith took to Twitter, joking, “Just throwing this out there… no team has lost a game when I sing the National Anthem.”
He’s right… Perhaps we need to consider signing him up more often. Who knows what he’d be like with a little more than five minutes notice!
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