By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
The T-shirt that caused such a local stir has now become the national story that won’t die.
Last month, an Oklahoma City public school forced Cooper Barton to turn his Michigan “Big House” shirt inside-out, immediately angering his family and thrusting the outdated dress code into question.
On Saturday, the five-year-old OKC native was honored at Michigan’s Big House.
“It wasn’t offensive. He’s five,” Shannon Barton, Cooper’s mother, told News9 at the time.
Since then, the code (which bans students from wearing clothing promoting any out-of-state colleges or professional teams) has been temporarily lifted and is currently under further review.
But the story extends past Oklahoma’s borders.
With national outlets picking it up, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon caught wind of the strange clothing ordeal. And he decided to get involved.
First, Brandon sent the Barton family a box full of Wolverine memorabilia (including a double-sided shirt for Cooper). Then, he invited the clan to Michigan’s game against UMass on Saturday.
Once there, Cooper (and the rest of his Michigan-loving family) were ushered onto the field during a timeout in the first quarter, honored in front of more than 100,000 cheering fans.
“When you get 100,000 people cheering for you, it’s just remarkable,” Chris Barton, Cooper’s father, told media members at the game. “It’s really actually very humbling.”
Even five-year-old Cooper held an impromptu press conference (as you can see with the strange looking photo on my right). In it, among other things, Cooper told reporters of his excitement for being there and his ability to beat Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in a race.
“It has been an amazing experience today,” Shannon added. “Nothing we could have ever imagined. It’s been incredible.”
Below is a video by News9 documenting the moment Cooper and his family found out they would be attending the game: