Both the Saluki men’s and women’s basketball teams are raising money for breast cancer awareness.
Fans can bid on jerseys and the highest bidders will be able to pick the name they want on the back of a player’s jersey. The players will wear the jerseys in the games and then present them to the highest bidders after the game. The money raised will go to Southern Illinois Healthcare’s Hope Is Home cancer center.
As of Jan. 21, all the women’s jerseys and 12 of the 14 men’s jerseys have been bid on. Bids can be placed at www.salukisgopink.com.
Marketing graduate assistant Nicole Sack said she expects more bidding by the end of the fundraiser.
“As with any auction, the closer it gets to the end the hotter it gets,” Sack said. “We anticipate it to be really successful this year… and it looks good so far.”
Bidding for women’s jerseys ends at 8 p.m. on Friday and the bidding for the men’s jerseys ends at 8 p.m. Jan. 30.
Freshman forward Celina VanHyfte said the game will mean more to her because her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer twice.
She said playing in front of a full stadium is something she has not been able to experience yet as a Saluki.
“It’s a great feeling that I’ll get to go out there and show them that the whole school is out there rooting for them,” she said. “I’m also out there supporting them, and I want them to succeed in life.”
Sack said most athletes ask about the name on the back of their jersey.
Women’s senior guard Mercedes Griffin said playing for someone else is an honor.
“You have someone’s name on the back of your jersey that has probably suffered from breast cancer,” she said. “You fight for them and can feel them looking down on you.”
Women’s coach Cindy Stein said the more people who show up for the game, the better the players want to perform. She said the game drew a bigger crowd last year and the players took notice.
Although the team will likely play in front of more fans than normal, Stein said the team will be prepared. She said games against Illinois and Murray State this season have built the team’s confidence to play in front of a large crowd.
“Any time we’re at home and there’s a good crowd, they feel the energy in the building,” she said. “A game like that, the energy is double because everyone is there for a reason so it brings a great spirit.”
The women’s team plays its Pink Out game at 12:05 p.m. Feb. 1 at SIU Arena against the Bradley Braves. The men’s team plays its Pink Out game at 1 p.m. Feb. 7 at SIU Arena against the Illinois State Redbirds.
Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269