July 15, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –Slippery Rock University will honor head football coach George Mihalik’s 40-year connection to the University and, more specifically, The Rock football program, by adding his name to N. Kerr Thompson Stadium.
Effective Sept. 10, the 10,000-seat stadium will be known as Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
The rededication of the stadium on the northeast corner of the SRU campus will take place as part of The Rock’s home football game against Cheyney University. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
The goal for the weekend is to generate an additional $100,000 through donations to the “Mihalik’s Mission” football scholarship program. Donors who fulfill a minimum commitment of $500 per year for five years will have their names permanently etched into a “Rock Football Wall of Fame Plaque” prominently displayed at the stadium.
The rededication celebration begins the previous night, when former players and coaches, family, friends and Rock football supporters will gather in the Multi-Purpose Room of the University Union for a “roast” of the honored guest.
Immediately following the formal event, friends will gather at the SRU Ski Lodge to further renew friendships and reminisce.
Festivities resume at 9 a.m., Sept. 10, with a golf outing at Oakview Golf Club. From 3-6 p.m., Rock fans are invited to join a pre-game tailgate at the Alumni Pavilion adjacent the stadium. The event culminates with a 9 p.m. post-game tailgate at which Mihalik and other members of The Rock football coaching staff will participate.
Tickets for the Sept. 9 cocktail reception and banquet are $50. Cost of the catered tailgates is $20 for adults; $10 for children ages14 and under. Reserved seat tickets for the football game are $8, general admission tickets, $6, and student tickets for those up through high school are $2, and will be available at the gate. SRU students are admitted free to all home games with ID.
Mihalik became SRU’s all-time leader in career wins Nov. 2, 2006, when The Rock won a 21-17 decision in a nationally televised game against archrival Indiana University of Pennsylvania. That win, the 127th in Mihalik’s career, moved him ahead of N. Kerr Thompson on the SRU Career Wins Chart.
Mihalik, the 15th head coach in Rock football history, enters the 2011 season with a 153-95-4 win-loss record in 23 seasons. He has led the Green and White to a winning record 17 times since becoming head coach in 1988. He ranks fifth on the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s all-time wins list and 12th among active NCAA Division II head coaches.
Thompson who served as SRU football coach from 1920-1942 and 1945 and was a member of the faculty until his retirement in 1950, is remember in part for his football wins that helped boost SRU’s nationwide fame. During his 24-year coaching tenure at The Rock, Thompson led teams to 126 wins, 12 divisional and eight state championships. He is also remembered for his refusal to see the University withdraw from intercollegiate competition during World War II when male enrollment was significantly reduced.
In October of 1944 while serving as athletic director, Thompson informed the board of trustees that even though there were only 10 men on campus, there would be a basketball team, since nine of them were “somewhat athletically inclined” and had “the desire” to play the game.
Thompson, a member of the SRU class of 1908 and who later received his bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College, served as a professor, athletic director and coach for numerous sports at SRU. Following his retirement, he was named a professor emeritus and later served on the SRU Council of Trustees.
The N. Kerr Thompson Scholarship Fund was established in 1970 in honor of Thompson’s nearly 30 years service as coach, professor and administrator. The annual NKT Fall Classic Golf Scramble, honoring the legendary SRU figure, is a result of a 2009 merger with the SRU Alumni Association’s annual Fall Classic outing.
The first game played at Thompson Stadium was Oct. 19, 1974, when The Rock defeated Waynesburg 41-3, homecoming weekend.
The stadium was originally scheduled to open in 1972, but construction delays scuttled those plans. Construction was completed and the stadium was thought to be ready for its inaugural game Sept. 21, 1974, against Muskingum (Ohio). However, heavy rains on the eve of the anticipated first game forced SRU to move that game and the following week’s game against Edinboro to the Butler High School field. Three weeks later, The Rock finally played its first game at Thompson Stadium.
The Rock has won 67 percent of its home games at Thompson Stadium, which underwent a significant facelift in 2003 when artificial turf and lights were added to the complex and the football locker and athletic training rooms were renovated. A second major change occurred in 2009 when the women’s field hockey and lacrosse locker room facility was added adjacent to the visitors’ side bleacher area.
In addition to football, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse and track and field athletic events, the stadium has been used for commencement, for high school playoff games and summer athletic camp programs.
For more information on the stadium rededication and accompanying events, contact Bill Richter, SRU’s athletic development officer, at 724.738.2387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.