JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Renewing a rivalry that dates to 1960, the men's basketball teams of Jacksonville University and the University of Florida will square off in a charity exhibition game on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., inside JU's Swisher Gymnasium. The game aims to raise financial and social support for hurricane relief efforts.
"I can't thank Mike [White] enough for bringing his team to Jacksonville. There aren't many guys who would do something like this," said Jacksonville Head Coach Tony Jasick. "This is a great opportunity for our players. Our university was hit right here in Swisher Gym and a lot of families are struggling because of the damage from the hurricane. Very rarely do student-athletes have an opportunity to give back in a fundraising-type manner like this."
JU and Florida have collectively agreed that proceeds from the game will be donated to Florida's First Coast Relief Fund through United Way Worldwide and used in assisting victims of the natural disasters that have occurred recently.
"We've seen the news coverage and heard stories of all the people affected by the weather damage around our state, so we're glad to be able to take part in this event and appreciate Jacksonville University's willingness to host the Gators to benefit a great cause," Florida Head Coach Mike White said.
The Jacksonville community was heavily impacted by damage caused by Hurricane Irma, including the flooding of the St. Johns River that hit levels that had not been seen in over 170 years.
"With so many people in Northeast Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma, we are excited to work with the NCAA, the University of Florida, and the United Way to do our part in aiding relief efforts. I want to thank Scott Stricklin and UF for their partnership as well as the NCAA staff for undertaking such an important initiative that will benefit our community," commented Jacksonville Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. "In keeping with Jacksonville University's community service culture, this charitable exhibition game is a perfect opportunity for us to give back to the Jacksonville community,"
Florida's First Coast Relief Fund was founded in 2016 to help those effected by Hurricane Matthew and the Relief Fund was re-activated in 2017 for Hurricane Irma relief.
"On behalf of Florida's First Coast Relief Fund partners, we are honored to be the beneficiary of proceeds from this historic basketball match-up," said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. "Hurricane Irma effected hundreds of thousands across our community – and also heightened the needs of many who struggle every day. The Relief Fund will ensure organizations providing emergency assistance have the resources necessary to help storm victims get back on their feet. No matter if you're a Dolphin or a Gator, we all win when we support our neighbors in need."
One hundred percent of donations to Florida's First Coast Relief Fund will benefit local nonprofit organizations who provide disaster-relief services. Relief Fund partners include: United Way of Northeast Florida, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
"We so appreciate this generous gesture from Jacksonville University and the University of Florida, to come to the aid of our area's Hurricane Irma victims," said Nina Waters, president of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. "It proves once again that these two highly-competitive schools will quickly and selflessly join together when it comes to helping their neighbors."
The two schools collaborated on the effort to receive a waiver from the NCAA to play an extra exhibition contest. The game offers fans the chance to see JU and UF go head-to-head in Jacksonville for the first time since 2013. This also marks the first time ever the two teams have met in Swisher Gymnasium.
General admission tickets will go on sale this Thursday at 2 p.m. on JUTickets.com. Tickets will be a minimum donation of $10 and one hundred percent of all the proceeds from the event will go directly to Florida's First Coast Relief Fund.