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Posted June 9, 2011

Missouri, Missouri Southern State To Play In Joplin, Proceeds To Go To Tornado Relief

Missouri athletic officials anticipate — possibly by today — receiving the go-ahead from the NCAA to play a benefit basketball game against Missouri Southern State University in tornado-torn Joplin, Mo.

“We have a conference call tomorrow, working with the NCAA and Missouri Southern,” Whit Babcock, executive associate director of athletics at Mizzou, told The Star on Wednesday.

Babcock was attending the Kansas City Tiger Club’s annual golf tournament at The Golf Club at Creekmor in Raymore.

“This is Missouri Southern’s game,” Babcock said, “and all the proceeds will go toward tornado relief for Joplin.”

Babcock said Southern and Missouri officials want to make tickets to the game, which would be played in late October in Joplin, affordable.

The Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, where the game would be played, normally seats 3,200 for basketball.

Babcock said there were discussions about making a section of seating designed for high-dollar contributors in order to increase funds raised for the relief effort.

Joplin was hit by an F5 tornado on May 22, the storm resulting in the deaths of 141 people and causing wide-spread damage across a mile-wide and 6-mile-long portion of the city.

MU and its athletic teams have taken part in continuing relief efforts that have raised more than $200,000 in commodity and financial aid. Basketball coach Frank Haith led one of the earliest relief trips to Joplin. Football coach Gary Pinkel and 35 athletes were there last Friday.

One of the earliest discussed efforts was to petition the NCAA to allow Missouri to add a benefit game in Joplin.

“We want to bring visibility, not just money, but late-October visibility to Joplin,” Babcock said.

“The NCAA has been very good to work with. We’ve taken it 95 yards and we’ve got 5 more. We’re very confident that by the end of the week we’ll have our hands around it.”

Babcock was uncertain of the exact date the game might be staged. One consideration might be picking a date on which the game could be televised, and thus help raised even more money for the relief effort.

There might be an option for people who could not actually attend the game buying tickets to contribute to the relief effort as well.

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