July 19, 2011
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois football program held a press conference Tuesday to announce its plans for a Black Out Cancer Game on Nov. 12, 2011, against Eastern Illinois.
The Black Out Cancer game is a way for Saluki fans and members of the community to join SIU in the fight against cancer. The idea for the game is the brainchild of Saluki senior safety Mike McElroy.
"When we started looking into doing this, my thought process was what can we do as a team to leave a legacy here in southern Illinois other than football," McElroy said. "I want to see this affect this community that has given us as football players so much, and this is a great opportunity for us to give back."
For the Nov. 12 home game, SIU will wear special, one-time-only black Under Armour jerseys. What makes this so unique is that Southern Illinois was granted a one-time waiver from the NCAA, allowing the school to put the names of cancer victims or anyone looking to support the cause on the back of an actual jersey that will be worn for the Black Out Cancer game.
"In my 25-plus years of coaching college football, I have not seen anything quite like this," SIU head football coach Dale Lennon said. "The opportunity for fans to have the input to actually put the name on the back of the jersey, then that jersey actually being out there on the field during the game, and then they will own the jersey after the game, makes this very significant."
The cancer fundraiser is unlike any other ever seen in college athletics.
"One of the things that you try to do with any football program or any athletic program is differentiate yourself from the competition," Southern Illinois Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. "At our level of football at Southern Illinois, if you can ever say you were the first in the nation to do something, that is pretty special."
Saluki Athletics has partnered with the American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer program, which will distribute 100 percent of the funds raised throughout southern Illinois.
"The money that is raised through this Coaches vs. Cancer activity will further [the American Cancer Society's] mission of eliminating cancer by providing funds for cancer research," said Jennifer Lee, American Cancer Society Southern Illinois Regional Director.
How it works is, Saluki fans and members of the community can place bids to secure the right to put the first initial and last name of a loved one who has been affected by cancer on the back of one of the jerseys.
The bidding is not restricted to anyone who has been touched by cancer, though. Anyone looking to support the cause may also bid for one of the jerseys. Then after the game, the winning bidders will be given their jersey from the player who wore it.
People interested in bidding can visit SalukisBlackOutCancer.com, or can call Steve Sowers, SIU Coordinator of Group Sales and Special Events, at 618-453-5153, to place a bid.
There will be 80 black Under Armour jerseys to bid on, which were graciously provided to Saluki Athletics by Cook Portable Warehouses and the Southern Illinois Orthopedic Center (SIOC).
Only the top 80 pledges will be given the opportunity to select a jersey and place a name on the back of it. The bidding process is open until Oct. 28, when the top pledge will have the first pick of the jersey numbers and it will follow in rank order from there.
The Saluki Black Out Cancer game takes place in Saluki Stadium on Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.