SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The University of Michigan athletic department has announced a partnership with Slippery Rock University that will bring The Rock to Michigan Stadium for a regular-season football game Oct. 18, 2014, during a Michigan football bye week.
SRU will host Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division rival Mercyhurst University. The game will celebrate the 35th anniversary of SRU's first visit to the "Big House," and will be part of SRU's 125th anniversary celebration.
"Slippery Rock has a special place in the hearts of our fans," said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd director of athletics. "We have embraced this relationship for decades and thought now would be the appropriate time to entertain another game at Michigan Stadium. We look forward to making this an entertaining day for the fans of both schools and our Michigan fans who wish to attend this event."
"We are extremely excited to play a game, once again, at the Big House," said Paul Lueken, SRU director of athletics. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes, coaches, support groups and Rock football fans. I could not think of a better place to spend a fall Saturday afternoon, experiencing college football than at the University of Michigan. We thank Dave Brandon and his staff for renewing this tradition of support between two great universities."
George Mihalik, The Rock's head football coach, also expressed his appreciation for the invitation from U-M.
"I compliment the athletic administration at Michigan, home of one of the premier major-college football programs in the nation, for their willingness to help 'the little guy' have an experience of a lifetime," Mihalik said.
This will be the third time The Rock has played a football game at Michigan Stadium.
Don Canham, then-U-M athletic director, invited SRU to play during its Band Day event Sept. 29, 1979, a 45-14 loss to rival Shippensburg in front of 61,143 fans, the largest crowd to ever see an NCAA Division II football game. Two years later, SRU returned to play Wayne State (Mich.), falling by a 14-13 score Sept. 12, 1981.
The stadium, built in 1927, has been expanded to be the third largest in the world and now seats more than 115,000 for football games.
Mihalik was an assistant coach for both of those games "and those memories are still very vivid for me," he said. "So I'm anxious for everyone associated with Rock football now to have that same experience."
"We look forward to playing in front of all our Michigan fans, who have made us their second-favorite team. We're looking to break the Division II attendance record set by our 1979 game in Ann Arbor," Mihalik said.
Michigan Athletics, in partnership with the Michigan Marching Band, is re-instituting Band Day for the game between SRU and Mercyhurst. High School bands from across the state of Michigan will be able to come to Michigan Stadium to perform.
Michigan football season ticketholders can purchase general admission tickets for $10 during the season ticket renewal period in the spring and non-season ticket holders can buy tickets for $20 in the spring as well. Student tickets will be free and there will be special group rates available.
SRU and Mercyhurst will announce their ticket sales plans when they are finalized.
Michigan has announced the SRU score at its football games for decades, a tradition that continues. In 2010, Brandon invited a contingent from SRU headed by Mihalik to be recognized at a home game against Wisconsin.
For more information on the Oct. 18, 2014, game, www.MGoBlue.com/slipperyrock.
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.