ASHEVILLE – UNC Asheville athletics retired the jersey No. 54 in honor of UNC Asheville alumnae Sheila Ford Duncan during halftime of the Bulldogs homecoming basketball doubleheader Saturday.
UNC Asheville also recognized the 35th anniversary of the 1983-84 team that won the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship at the end of the third quarter.
Ford Duncan was a member of the Bulldog basketball team from 1980-1984, with the highlight of her career being named the NAIA National Player of the Year while leading the Bulldogs to the 1984 National Championship victory. She averaged 23.1 points and 18.7 rebounds per game during the 1983-84 season and was named NAIA First Team All-American and NAIA All-Region Player of the Year in the South Atlantic Region along with National Player of the Year honors.
“I am deeply honored and elated about having my jersey retired,” Ford Duncan said. “It has been 35 years since I played basketball at UNC Asheville in the Justice Center; I am truly blessed. Thank you for remembering me after all these years.”
Duncan became the first female in the NCAA and NAIA to surpass both career marks of 2,000 points and 2,000 rebounds. To this day, she is one of only a handful of people in the NCAA and the NAIA to accomplish that feat on the women’s or men’s side.
Duncan is UNC Asheville’s all-time leader in scoring (2,443) and rebounds (2,200). She also holds 18 other individual records at UNC Asheville. During her junior season, Duncan led the nation with 20 rebounds and 19.6 points per game.
“Sheila Ford was a strong steady leader throughout her years on the UNC Asheville team,” former UNC Asheville women’s basketball head coach (1980-84) Helen Carroll said. “Her work ethic was inspiring to all team members and her teammates joined her level of commitment toward excellence. This is what national championship teams are made of. What an honor to coach such an athlete and remain steadfast friends to this really great person.”