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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Joplin exhibition game approved

MU set to play MSSU on Oct. 30

After setting up donation bins in the eastern concourse of the Hearnes Center and delivering the proceeds to Joplin, Mo., the athletic department, led by basketball coach Frank Haith, is looking to reach out the helping hand even further.

With NCAA approval, the men's basketball team will play an exhibition game, promoted as the "One State, One Spirit Classic", against the Missouri Southern State University Lions on Sunday, Oct. 30. All funds raised from the benefit game will go toward Joplin relief campaigns.

"We have greatly admired Missouri Southern State University's tremendous effort in coming to the aid of the citizens of Joplin," Chancellor Brady Deaton said in a news release. "To further support relief efforts, we are proud to partner with MSSU in staging this charity exhibition game. Public higher education serves Missourians in many ways, and certainly our outstanding coaches, student-athletes and athletic staff members have been among the first to step forward during this very challenging time for Joplin."

The game will be sponsored by Leggett and Platt and held at the Leggett and Platt Center in Joplin.

"Leggett and Pratt is proud to assist and be a part of this benefit exhibition game to help the Joplin area tornado victims," Leggett and Platt CEO David Haffner said. "I played football for two years at MSSU before transferring to Mizzou and getting my undergraduate engineering degree from MU, so I have strong personal bonds with both universities. As time passes, it will be critical that we keep a priority on those that have lost so much, and this event will help refocus those efforts four months from now."

Several employees at Leggett and Platt and their families also suffered losses after the tornado.

Although ticket pricing and an official start time have not been announced, the game will be focused around a 5:41 p.m. moment of silence-- the exact time the tornado struck the town.

MU had already scheduled two exhibition games for the upcoming season, but the NCAA's allowance of only two exhibition games per season was changed for the special circumstance.

"While the state of Missouri is making every resource available to help the people, families and businesses cope with the immediate aftermath of the devastating Joplin tornado, our overall efforts must be long-term to match the many months of recovery ahead," Gov. Jay Nixon said. "Having new coach Frank Haith take his team to Joplin for this exhibition game with Missouri Southern, with the proceeds to benefit tornado recovery, ensures that our efforts on behalf of storm victims are committed and ongoing."

The last MU and MSSU match up was on Nov. 11, 2008 in Columbia. This will be MU's first men's basketball game in Joplin.

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