BUTTE, Mont. – An inaugural athletic competition between in-state collegiate rivals will kick off this month as announced today by Montana State University Director of Athletics Peter Fields and University of Montana Director of Athletics Kent Haslam.

The yearlong rivalry series entitled “Brawl of the Wild” will be co-presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and Town Pump Food Stores, both of which are current partners of UM Athletics and MSU Athletics. Joining Fields and Haslam in making today’s announcement were representatives of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and of Town Pump Food Stores.

Brawl of the Wild will operate on a point system in which each school can earn a maximum of 25 points per year based on head-to-head competition between the Montana Grizzles and Montana State Bobcats in a total of 13 men’s and women’s sports. The university compiling the most points by the end of the school year will earn bragging rights to the specially designed traveling trophy. The first match up between the two schools this season will be women’s volleyball in Missoula on Oct. 21. Throughout the year, fans can visit the respective official athletic websites to track progress: www.gogriz.com or www.msubobcats.com.

“This certainly will add another level of excitement to an already passionate rivalry. Great rivalries are what make college athletics so special and unique, and the Montana-Montana State rivalry is definitely a great one,” said Haslam. “We’re grateful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and Town Pump Food Stores for their willingness to back the Brawl.”

“Everyone in our state knows and understands the importance of the Cat-Griz rivalry, but the involvement of Town Pump and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana adds a new dynamic,” said Fields. “The coaches and student-athletes at both schools work hard every single day to win in this rivalry, and to win championships, and bringing their efforts into clearer focus is a tremendous positive. This series is distinctly Montana, which is true of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana and Town Pump, and we remain proud of our involvement.”

In addition to the athletic competition, Brawl of the Wild will feature a dedicated community service component showcasing the exceptional outreach by University of Montana and Montana State student-athletes. Both schools will recognize their student-athletes respectively throughout the entire season and there will be community service opportunities that both schools will participate in as part of this series.

“Community service is key to the overall success of our student-athletes. I am very pleased the rivalry series will recognize the great work being done by student-athletes and coaches at both universities,” Haslam added.

Fields further commented, “Participation in the campus and Bozeman communities have been integral in the student-athlete experience for many years at Montana State, and that’s been reflected in the great things that our young people do every year. I’m thrilled that our partnership with Town Pump and Blue Cross/Blue Shield highlights the positive impact student-athletes at both schools have in Bozeman and Missoula.”

According to Director of Strategic Marketing Services John Doran, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana is proud to support the Brawl of the Wild series. Like Blue Cross, this rivalry goes back decades and is part of the fabric of Montana. To all of the student-athletes whose hard work will pay off on the field, on the court and in the classroom, we wish you good luck in this season’s epic Brawl battles.”

“Town Pump is pleased to sponsor the exciting Rivalry Series between the University of Montana and Montana State University,” said Wayne Moser, Town Pump’s director of sales and marketing. “This special competition brings a great sense of energy and excitement to the cross-state rivalry. Operating in towns across Montana, Town Pump is proud of its new involvement in Montana’s premier sports programs. Good luck to both the Cats and Griz!”

Spearheading Brawl of the Wild with both universities and the presenting sponsors are Grizzly Sports Properties and Bobcat Sports Properties, the athletic multimedia rights holders for the University of Montana and Montana State University respectively. Both are properties of Learfield Sports, which manages multimedia rights for more than 50 collegiate institutions and associations and celebrates a 40-year history. Other Learfield Sports’ schools hosting rivalry series include Oklahoma/Oklahoma State (Bedlam Series), Iowa/Iowa State (Cy-Hawk Series) and South Dakota/South Dakota State (Showdown Series). For more, visit www.learfieldsports.com.