Cavalier Corner

December 2014

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Combine the University of Virginia with Vir- ginia Tech plus Virginia529 and you have the Commonwealth Clash. The Clash, which commenced at the start of the current academic year, is a points-based competi- tion between the athletic teams of each school. Each team at each school will compete for points. The school with the most points at the end of the academic year will be named the Com- monwealth Clash champion. And one fan-decided point will figure into the mix. "A number of years ago there was a similar rivalry," said Virginia529 CEO Marry Morris, whose organization is the largest college savings plan for both Virginia and Virginia Tech. "When we struck our rivalry between the two schools, Virginia529 was getting into those marketing op- portunities with sports. "Maybe Tech reached out to us. It made sense and we called it 'The Rivalry Game.' But we wanted to amp up the exposure and our involve- ment with the schools. There was a year of discus- sions to come up with the refined concepts. It was a collaborative effort and we reached out to the schools. We can play up that rivalry and tie the two schools together. "There are some great talking points and brag- ging rights for both schools," Morris continued. "The schools thought it was a great way to build up that rivalry." Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage re- alizes the benefits both schools have with their association with Virginia529. "Certainly to get the branding opportunity and the connection between two outstanding athletic programs and academic institutions, Virginia529 does so much to provide an affordable venue through which families can obtain a college education," Littlepage said. "It provides fund- ing for a high education for the citizens of the commonwealth. "I think the benefit ac- crues to our respective institutions through the focus that's on each of these sports over the course of a long academic year, plus the alignment with Virginia529, which has a strong recognition throughout the commonwealth." In a sense, the rivalry between the Cavaliers and the Hokies may be taken to the proverbial next level. "I think it's one of those great rivalries," Lit- tlepage said. "In recent years, Virginia Tech in so many of its sports is seeing an ascension of its competitive sports. They have sports that are moving very well in terms of their profile and the success they've had. "What we've done at Virginia is you see the success we've had in so many sports. The com- petition becomes increasingly important in the format of the Clash because each score counts, and then you have the wild card with the fans [i.e. that fan-decided point]." Morris noted how the Clash will help under- score the importance of an education. "It's a fun way to build up those brands and to get out the importance of higher education," she said. "Not everybody understands the benefit of higher education. "It's a great way to reach out to families in terms of how you're going to pay for it." — Mike Scandura BEHIND THE SCENES COMMONWEALTH CLASH CAVALIER SPORTS

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