BRISTOL, Conn. (Nov. 11, 2016) – Beginning in 2017, the annual Secretaries' Cup football game featuring the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and arch-rival the U.S. Coast Guard Academy will be televised around the world on the ESPN family of networks, the global broadcasting company announced on Friday morning. The plan moving forward will be to have the game as part of ESPN's week-long celebration of Veterans Day, in which the network honors and celebrates the dedication and sacrifices of those who have serve our country – past, present and future.
The Mariners and the Bears will be moving into the newly-formed New England Men's and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) football league together with six other institutions in 2017. The annual Secretaries' Cup game will be moved from the beginning of the season to the end, and join a rich history of season-ending rivalry games in college football – including the famed Army-Navy game.
Next year's game will be played at Cadet Memorial Field on the campus of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., before returning to Kings Point in 2018 on Captain Tomb Field at Brooks Stadium.
Like the Army-Navy game, the atmosphere of the Secretaries' Cup game is unlike any other on the Division III level. Both the Regiment and Midshipmen of USMMA and the Corps of Cadets of USCGA along with fans – including family, friends and alumni from both institutions – pack the stands and provide a fun and very passionate, but respectful, climate to echo the intense action on the gridiron. It is a highly anticipated and very memorable experience every year.
The contest in 2016 was the 45th meeting between the two teams and the 39th consecutive since 1981 when the then-"Secretary's Cup" was established. The first game ever between the two rivals was played in 1949. The name of the trophy and game was to honor the Secretary of Transportation, as both schools were under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. The name became pluralized in 2003 after the entire Coast Guard moved under the authority of the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security.
The "Secretaries' Cup" post-game trophy presentation traditionally includes participation by senior military and civilian officials of the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, in addition to the Superintendents, Directors of Athletics and Head Coaches of each institution. Following the on-field trophy presentation, each institution's team, staff and official party stands at attention for the playing of the respective alma maters.
Overall, Merchant Marine holds a commanding 31-14 record in the rivalry game, and the Mariners have won 15 of the past 19 contests over the Bears. Eight of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.
"The first word that came to mind was AWESOME! Thank you to ESPN for giving two Division III teams the opportunity to play on national TV. The game will bring national attention to the United States Merchant Marine Academy – the Academy that many Americans are unaware exists. It will be an honor and will be a great experience, one we will remember the rest of our lives."
- Justin Sydlowski (Plymouth, Mich.) – Junior Linebacker
"The United States Merchant Marine Academy Football Team is very excited for this opportunity. We are the Academy that is often never mentioned but just like the players and students at the other four federal service academies, we take great pride in our school and our service to this great country. It will be an honor to represent the United States Merchant Marine Academy and we are grateful to ESPN for the opportunity to play on national television. GO MARINERS!"
- Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) – Junior Quarterback
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