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College Basketball

Digger Phelps takes on the role of Mother Ginger from ‘The Nutcracker’? (video)


Long before Digger Phelps became a household name among college basketball fans during his stellar tenure as an astute roundball analyst on ESPN, he enjoyed a pretty successful head coaching career in the college ranks, specifically with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Phelps, now retired after leaving ESPN last spring, happened to be in South Bend on Wednesday night. His affiliation with Notre Dame does explain his presence at the team’s showdown with the Michigan State Spartans at the school’s Joyce Center as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It does not, however, adequately explain exactly why he was dressed up in drag while making an appearance on the court during the night’s festivities.

Phelps was regaled from head to toe in garish costumery to assume the role of Mother Ginger for a performance of the Sugar Plum Fairy dance from “The Nutcracker” at halftime.

Egad. A few things that can be said about Phelps in light of his performance: That guy is up for anything, never takes himself too seriously and knows how to have a good time. Also, he’s enjoying his retirement.

Phelps coached the Irish for 20 years (1971-1991), leading the team to an impressive 393–197 record and the school’s only Final Four appearance in 1978. His latest showing on the basketball court may be his greatest performance, though. Or most awkward. Perhaps both.

[H/T Sporting News, top image via Campus Insiders/Twitter]