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SRU adds Mihalik’s name to football stadium

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – George Mihalik has been part of the Slippery Rock University football program for 39 of the last 40 years and he will soon become a permanent part of Rock Football history.

Robert Smith, SRU president, in a surprise announcement Saturday evening during the football team’s annual awards banquet, said the official name of the home facility for Rock football games will be changed from N. Kerr Thompson Stadium to Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

Formal ceremonies will be Sept. 10 as part of The Rock’s home game against Cheyney University (7 p.m. kickoff).

“It is a great privilege on behalf of the University to pay tribute to coach Mihalik and honor him for his undying devotion to Slippery Rock University and Rock football in particular,” Smith said. “Starting as an incoming freshman in 1970 and continuing on through his career as a student athlete, assistant coach, head coach and member of our faculty, he has demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism and personal integrity. Anyone who knows George, knows that he is the embodiment of Rock Pride and he truly ‘bleeds green.’”

Mihalik’s on-field accomplishments as a student athlete and coach are a mark of distinction.

The 2011 season will be Mihalik’s 24th as The Rock’s head football coach. He is the school’s all-time leader in career wins with a 153-95-4 win-loss record.

Mihalik led The Rock to appearances in three consecutive NCAA Division II playoffs from 1997-99, four straight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division championships from 1997-2000 and 12 consecutive winning seasons from 1991-2002. His teams have compiled a winning record in 18 of his first 23 seasons as head coach.

He was recognized by his peers as the PSAC-West “Coach of the Year” in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and earned the American Football Coaches Association’s regional coaching honor in both 1997 and 1998.

A native of Culver, Mihalik was inducted into the SRU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, the Butler Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mihalik surpassed Thompson (126-58-11 from 1920-45) in all-time wins with a nationally televised victory Nov. 2, 2006, at archrival Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Before being named the 14th head coach in Rock football history in 1988, Mihalik served 11 seasons as an assistant coach on Rock staffs headed by Bob DiSpirito, Fred Goldsmith and Don Ault. He was assistant head coach on DiSpirito’s 1987 staff before ascending to the top spot shortly after the conclusion of that season. The football playing field is named in DiSpirito’s honor.

The only season since 1970 in which Mihalik has not been part of The Rock football program was in 1976, when he served as graduate assistant at the University of Kentucky.

As a student athlete, Mihalik was a three-year starter at quarterback and led The Rock to back-to-back PSAC championships in his final two collegiate seasons (1972 and 1973). In his final game, he rushed for three touchdowns to lead SRU to a 28-14 title-game win over West Chester.

Mihalik earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SRU. He earned his doctorate from West Virginia University in 1986.

Currently a professor in SRU’s safety management department, Mihalik is one of only a small handful of head football coaches throughout the nation who remain a full-time member of their university faculty.

The Rock has played its home football games at N. Kerr Thompson Stadium since 1974.

The facility got a facelift in 2003 when artificial turf and lights were added. SRU owns a 128-62 record in 36 seasons at Thompson Stadium, has won 86 of 126 home games since Mihalik became head coach in 1988 and is 25-17 in home games since the facility was upgraded in 2003.

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.