CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The intensity of the in-state rivalry between the Nevada Wolf Pack and UNLV Rebels escalated Monday with the announcement of a new, year-long competition that incorporates athletic prowess and academic achievement.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, surrounded by cheerleaders, mascots, university officials and others, announced the creation of the Governor's Series, a challenge that will pit student athletes from the state's two NCAA schools against each other in 15 sports.
The prize at the end of the year will be the Governor's Cup.
Now that the University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas both are members of the Mountain West Conference, officials said the head-to-head contests will elevate the intense rivalry that until now has focused on men's basketball and the "Battle for the Fremont Cannon," the classic football matchup featuring the largest, most expensive trophy in college football. The game will be played Saturday in Las Vegas.
Along with athletic abilities, the student athletes will also earn points for their grades in the classroom.
"Each and every grade will matter," Sandoval said.
He said the competition epitomizes the quality of student athletes and the universities.
"Everyone knows there's always been a very strong rivalry and this takes it to the next level," said Sandoval, a UNR graduate. "It's going to be on the field, it's also going to be in the classroom."
A separate award will be given to one student athlete from each institution who demonstrates outstanding athletic performance and personifies sportsmanship, academic achievement, character and community service.
That award is named after Bill Ireland. A 1952 graduate of UNR, Ireland was the Wolf Pack's first baseball coach. He later went to UNLV, where he was the Rebels first football coach and later became the school's athletic director.
The Governor's Series is co-sponsored by NV Energy and Barrick Gold Corp.
NV Energy pledged $50,000 a year for three years for athletic scholarships, to be split evenly between both schools.
Barrick said it will contributed $10,000 a year toward scholarships, plus another $30,000 over three years for other program support services such as marketing.
Should the Governor's Series end in a tie, the current holder of the Fremont Cannon will determine the winner.