Sep 14, 2011 at 07:44 PM
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Friends of Coal Sponsors Kentucky Rivalry Game

The Kentucky Coal Association (KCA) will sponsor this year’s cross-state rivalry between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville will be sponsored by the Friends of Coal–Kentucky. While game sponsorships usually run in the $25K range, this sponsorship, which includes sponsorship of two other athletic events, cost $85,000.

“This rivalry game is watched closely by Kentuckians whether they wear blue or red,” said Bill Bissett, President of the KCA. “As the proud representatives of Kentucky’s 18,000 coal miners, it gives us a great opportunity to not only communicate with thousands of Kentuckians on how coal provides affordable electricity throughout the state and nation, but also this sponsorship is helping pay tribute to their continued dedication and hard work in supporting the Commonwealth.”

The Friends of Coal deal was negotiated by IMG, but comes in light of protests in recent years regarding Coal's sponsorship of UK athletic events.

"I think it is deeply unfortunate that the coal identity continues to be riveted to the University of Kentucky and its major sports events," former faculty trustee Ernie Yanarella told "There is a good deal of divisiveness within the UK campus about the role coal should play in Kentucky's future and the directing role it should play in university administrative policy."

Board of Trustees chairman Britt Brockman called the protest naive and short-sighted, responding to concerns by saying "they have the right to advertise as would other industries that are important to our state."

This isn't FoC's first football sponsorship. The organization has sponsored West Virginia University's rivalry game with Marshall for the past six seasons, dubbed the Friends of Coal Bowl.