The University of Akron and Kent State University are trying to intensify a sports rivalry by putting a new twist on a decades-old tradition.
Football fans of either college know that the winner of their annual gridiron contest wins not only the game itself, but also the legendary Wagon Wheel.
Now, there's a new wagon wheel trophy that doesn't stop with football and doesn't cater to men's sports. Men's and women's track and field, basketball and golf, along with women's volleyball, baseball and softball are among the teams that will participate in a separate rivalry to win possession of the trophy for a year.
The two universties have agreed on a point system that will be enabled each time the designated teams play each other.
UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill says student-athletes and coaches are already excited about the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge and he hopes other students will take an interest as well.
"We're going to have to make it known through our website and thr4ough things we do on campus and keep track of the point total to see where it leads," said Wistrcill.
Wistrcill agrees with KSU Director of Athletics Joel Nielson that the new competition is more broad and should emphasize that football and basketball aren't the only sports, even though they often get the most attention.
"I do anticipate there being a heightened sense of awareness, probably in the spring, when we start trying to figure who's ahead of whom," said Nielson.
PNC Bank is sponsoring the Wagon Wheel Challenge.
PNC Regional President Kevin Thompson says his company wanted to be involved because they see the importance of the economic iimpact both colleges have on the region in terms of employment and producing graduates who often stay in the area beyond college.