Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Illinois is the most intimidating place to play in the MAC. Tonight's game between Northern Illinois and Ball State has conference and BCS implications, and the Ball State Cardinals faithful will be there.
The head football coach at the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke, his wife Laura, and ESPN sports writer Jason Whitlock, all proud Ball State alums, have provided the opportunity for Ball State students to attend the game at Northern Illinois. The Hokes have donated $5,000 dollars to the university, a gift matched by Whitlock. Whitlock was responsible for calling Laura Hoke to get the ball rolling on this charitable gesture. The donation allows 200 students to travel from Muncie, Indiana to DeKalb, and covers the cost of the game ticket and two meals. The athletic department at Ball State will pick up the tab for another 40 students via the Student Rewards Program.
"We are very appreciative of the donations from Jason Whitlock and Brady and Laura Hoke to help us get our students to the Northern Illinois game," Ball State athletics director Bill Scholl said in a release. "It is an extremely generous offer and shows a great commitment to their alma maters."
With the donation Whitlock has requested that 25 seats be reserved for journalism students and another 25 be reserved for the Black Student Association.
"I gotta give Jason a lot of credit," said Brian Hardin, deputy athletics director at Ball State. "He called at the beginning of last week and said he would love to find a way to get as many students up there as possible."
The trip includes five buses. Tickets were available on a first come, first served basis. Students will leave for DeKalb at 1 PM on Wednesday and return back to Muncie 6 PM Thursday.
"I think it's very important that all [alumni], regardless of what level - you don't have to sponsor bus trips, you can give $50, $100 - I think all alumni have a responsibility to support our university," Whitlock said.
"I hope it's going to inspire a lot of [alumni] to take pride in Ball State [and] give back some money to help support the entire university, but the athletic department in particular."
Whitlock attended Ball State on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1990. He's written for the Kansas City Star, AOL Sports, Foxsports.com, and ESPN.
Hoke played linebacker at Ball State and was a four year letterman. He helped the Cardinals win the 1978 MAC Championship. Hoke returned to Ball State to coach the Cardinals from 2003 to 2008. He led Ball State to a 12-2 record and the Cardinals were ranked #12 in the country, highest in school history.
Ball State and Northern Illinois kick off at 8 PM ET on Wednesday. The game can be seen on ESPN2.