Open Mike: Thank You Illini Nation

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Dear Illini Fans,

Email__DSC0658.jpgI want to personally thank each and every one of you who participated in Stripe the Stadium Saturday at Memorial Stadium against Ohio State. Even though the final score didn't turn out the way we wanted, the atmosphere and unique setting created by the alternating Orange and Blue sections were terrific. I spent some time with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, and he was very impressed. The participation was so good, that we may plan to make "Stripe the Stadium" an annual event at an Illini home football game. Great job by all!

I also hope everyone who was at the football game has had a chance to look at the FanCam photo that was taken at halftime. More than 5,000 fans tagged themselves within the first 12 hours after it was posted on FightingIllini.com and the numbers have continued to grow. The detail in the photograph is pretty amazing. If you haven't seen the incredible FanCam photo yet, please take a look HERE.

We had around 4,000 fans check out Bruce Weber's basketball team at the open practice prior to the football game. We're all looking forward to an exciting season at the Assembly Hall for both the men's and women's teams.

It also was Varsity I weekend and I had a chance to meet many of the former Fighting Illini student-athletes and great supporters who have helped chart the tradition and success we've had at the University of Illinois.  It was great to see so many at the event Friday night and I know many more attended the pregame tent party on Saturday.

We have five football games remaining in the regular season, each as important as the other as we work to improve our bowl standing. Both divisions are extremely competitive, and every team is looking forward to the inaugural Big Ten Championship game at Indianapolis on Dec. 3. I hope you plan to join the Fighting Illini wherever we are invited to play this postseason. I'm confident it will be a wonderful experience.

Fighting Illini fans should also be very proud of our top-ranked volleyball program, led by Coach Hambly, and the Illini women's soccer team that is currently in second place in the Big Ten. Both are having outstanding seasons as they head down the home stretch of the season.

Thanks to everyone who supports our programs, whether through donations, ticket sales, the purchase of merchandise, or simply cheering on our teams.

Go Illini!

Mike Thomas
Director of Athletics

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