JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In just the third official sellout of the Historic Swisher Gym, Jacksonville University hosted eighth-ranked University of Florida in an exhibition game Thursday night. The event was a fundraiser for the United Way's First Coast Relief Fund, with 100 percent of the ticket sales being donated, as well as sizable anonymous donations made at the event.
QUOTES ON THE NIGHT
"Very rarely do Division 1 student-athletes have an opportunity to legitimately give back," said Jacksonville Head Coach Tony Jasick. "Every program in the country does some community projects or are involved in different things, but for our guys and Florida's guys to be able to have an immediate financial impact in our local community following the hurricane … it's a no-brainer and I'm excited we had this opportunity for them to be able to do it."
"The game itself was great, but really it's the cause, which is the First Coast Relief Fund. They're getting all the ticket proceeds," said Jacksonville Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. "Tony came in and said that Florida had called and said they wanted to come play in Swisher Gym. The NCAA said that they would be allowing these extra exhibition events if a waiver was passed and all the criteria was met. But at that time Swisher wasn't ready. The roof was still off, the floor wasn't ready, with both of those areas getting hit hard by Hurricane Irma, and the locker rooms still aren't completely ready today. So, we expedited the fix, got the confirmation, and then once we'd crossed our t's and dotted our I's with Florida it was all pretty simple. Tony and Mike did most of the work; I just said yes."
"How about the turnout tonight?" said Jacksonville Provost Dr. Donnie Horner. "The vibe here is energetic, and it's standing room only! It's incredible that just a month ago, this facility was under two inches of water, and now you wouldn't even know it if we hadn't been public with our restoration efforts. I can't say enough about [Florida head coach] Mike White and the University of Florida. They reached out to us on behalf of the First Coast Relief Fund. Every cent of this effort goes to a really worthy cause, and we're just so proud to have been a part of this event."
"This was all put together by our friends at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida," said Jeff Winkler, Head of Administration and Strategy of the United Way of Northeast Florida. "For the last several weeks and months we've been raising funds through our partners, to whom I have to give all the credit. Along with the United Way, we're working hard with the Jesse Ball duPont Fund, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, the United Way of St. John's County, and the Jaguars Foundation. To date we've raised about $3.6 million to go towards hurricane relief. Tonight's basketball game was just icing on the cake.
But the need post-Irma reaches into the billions of dollars. The skies may be blue right now but a lot of families in our community are still dealing with storms daily. That's where the First Coast Relief Fund comes in. This was a fantastic event whether you're a Dolphin or a Gator; when we come together like this everyone wins."
"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.
A photo gallery of the event is included below.
The 2017-18 men's basketball season officially begins Nov. 10, when JU travels to Birmingham, Ala., to play at UAB. That road trip will round out at Georgetown on Nov. 12 before Jacksonville opens up the home portion of its schedule with NC A&T on Nov. 18.