June 21, 2006
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -
The West Virginia Coal Association announced Wednesday that it has entered a partnership with Marshall University and West Virginia University and will sponsor the upcoming football series between the two schools.
The games will be called the Friends of Coal Bowl.
"Our industry is the major industry in West Virginia, and we believe that it helps bring our state together. We also believe this football game will bring our state together because it involves West Virginia's two flagship institutions," said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
"We're happy to have an important role in this tremendous game. And we hope that our participation will put a spotlight on the proud working people of the coal industry."
A seven-year series between Marshall and West Virginia begins with this year's contest in Morgantown.
"I am so pleased that a sponsor like Friends of Coal has now stepped up to take this game to a level of national prominence similar to the great in-state rivalries of such schools as Florida-Florida State, Alabama-Auburn and Clemson-South Carolina," West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin said.
Manchin joined representatives of the two universities at Wednesday's news conference, which was held at the Embassy Suites hotel.
"We are happy the Friends of Coal are joining us in making this game one of a kind. Their support is tremendous. We are looking forward to a great season opener on September 2," said West Virginia University Athletic Director Ed Pastilong.
Marshall University Athletic Director Bob Marcum said, "We greatly appreciate the Friends of Coal for their support in helping to make this a great event. This series will showcase two outstanding Universities that all West Virginians can be proud of and we look forward to opening the season with the Friends of Coal Bowl."
A game logo that features the Friends of Coal emblem and helmets representing both universities' football teams was also unveiled.
The contest was named the Friends of Coal Bowl in honor of the more-than-50,000-member grassroots organization that supports state's coal industry, Raney said.
The West Virginia Coal Association will make a substantial donation that will benefit both universities and include scholarship support, Raney said.