Just more than two weeks before the college basketball regular season tips off, new coach Rick Pitino and the revamped Red Storm will host the Scarlet Knights on Oct. 21 at Carnesecca Arena on their Queens campus.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go to support innovative pediatric cancer research, St. John’s said in a news release Monday.
“Personally, there is no better charity than helping pediatric cancer research through the Jimmy V Foundation,” said Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach who is entering his first season with the Red Storm. “There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a young child suffer, so we are delighted to join with Rutgers to donate money from this exhibition to the V Foundation.”
The 84-year-old Vitale, a longtime ESPN college basketball analyst, announced in July that he had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. Vitale tweeted that he had surgery in Boston, and tests revealed he had vocal cord cancer. He said he would undergo six weeks of radiation treatments, and hoped to be ready to call games this fall.
For years, Vitale has been raising funds for cancer research. He helped friend Jim Valvano to the stage at the 1993 ESPYs, where Valvano delivered his famous “Don’t give up” speech. Valvano died of adenocarcinoma less than two months later.
Valvano played at Rutgers in the 1960s before coaching underdog North Carolina State to the 1983 NCAA championship.
“We are excited to partner with Rick Pitino, Dick Vitale, and the Jimmy V Foundation,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We are thrilled to help this great charity to push forward research to help any child facing pediatric cancer.”
Rutgers and St. John’s will play in the preseason for the first time since 2017, when the Red Storm visited The RAC for an exhibition game that benefited the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
The last time the schools met in the regular season, St. John’s won 84-65 at Rutgers in November 2018 as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games pitting Big East against Big Ten squads.
“I am so thankful to St. John’s Rick Pitino and Rutgers (head coach) Steve Pikiell to play an exhibition game to benefit The V Foundation for kids battling cancer,” Vitale said. “All the dollars donated will go for pediatric cancer research. Personally, it means so much to me as I have dedicated myself for years with my (Dick Vitale) Gala for pediatric cancer research. We have raised $68.1 million thus far, but so much more is needed. Once again, a big THANK YOU to Coach Pitino and Coach Pikiell! You guys are AWESOME BABY!”