Grizz Gang partners up with WXOU

With their own 226-seat section in Oakland University’s O’Rena, the Grizz Gang has had a presence at the men’s and women’s basketball games ever since its creation in 2007. Now the third year program hopes to generate more excitement about OU sports with a pregame presentation.



The Grizz Gang is teaming up with WXOU for a series of tailgate shows that will be held before most home basketball games on the outside patio next to the O’Rena.


“There will be a DJ at every event, games, possible giveaways, and possible student-section seat reservations in the front row,” said Anthony Lewis, Grizz Gang president. Lewis said it’d be like any other pregame show with the goal of getting fans ready for the game.


“I think it’s a good collaboration between two student organizations,” said Kate Boylan, coordinator of athletics marketing and promotions. Boylan thinks the tailgate shows will create “that exciting buzz that’s associated with games at other schools.”


Kyle Bauer, WXOU’s sports director, said the station is eager to team up with the Grizz Gang.


“The feeling is that a broadcast would bring more people to the tailgates and that a tailgate would bring more people to the broadcasts,” Bauer said. “Really it’s a win-win situation.”


The first tailgate event will be Saturday Nov. 14 for the men’s regular season opener when they host Eastern Michigan University. Fans can enjoy free food from Buffalo Wild Wings while Neal Ruhl, play-by-play announcer for the men’s team, joins Matt Pocket, host of “The Corner Pocket” and play-by-play announcer for the women’s basketball team, for pregame analysis. A WXOU DJ will be spinning music for a half hour before the actual broadcast starts.


WXOU already airs live broadcasts of each home game and often has OU athletes stop by the studio for postgame wraps. Pocket hopes the tailgate shows will provide an opportunity to elicit fan reactions and outlooks from the Grizz Gang.


“It’s a chance to integrate the Grizz Gang into basketball coverage,” Pocket said.


Becoming a member


Daniel Malendowski, a junior majoring in accounting, has been a Grizz Gang member since his freshman year.


“I have always been a huge fan of college basketball,” Malendowski said, “and the fact that OU has not only a D-1 team, but a pretty decent D-1 team, is pretty cool.”


Students can join the organization by filling out a quick membership form at the group’s page at


Once a member, students receive free tickets to all on-campus sporting events, e-mail updates and quarterly newsletters, as well as a free T-shirt.


The student organization, which was created in 2007 by alumni Ben Fielder and Anthony Gallina, currently has 1,025 members, including a seven-person executive board.


Lewis said the group exists to support all of OU’s sports teams, but has their biggest presence at basketball games.


“I guess the very bare basics of it would be that it’s a student section,” Lewis said.


Sections B2 and E3 of the O’Rena are for Grizz Gang members only. Boylan said the section started getting too full last season so this season they will have an overflow section in the north bleachers.


Students filling up those sections can participate in the passport program. Grizz Gang members receive a passport, and members who wear their T-shirts to OU athletic contests can earn points to redeem for prizes. For instance, students earn two points for attending a men’s basketball game and five points for any swim meet.



One of the big scheduled events for this season is a group trip to a road game out of state.


“It’s a lot of fun just to go out there and get pumped for the game,” said Corey Schmidt, a senior majoring in public administration. He joined the Grizz Gang his sophomore year and went on the road trip to IPFW last year.


“For a free event, it’s one of the best events I’ve gone to at Oakland,” Schmidt said. He said he plans on tagging along again this year when they go to IPFW Dec. 5. The first 300 students to sign up will travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a day of free food and basketball.


“Last year we had free T-shirts for it and we had a free lunchbox and a whole bunch of sweet giveaways that (the Athletic Department and University Housing) supplied us with,” Lewis said. “So hopefully we’re looking to have that again. But everything’s free: the food, the tickets, the trip, the bus fare, everything.”


Pocket said this is an exciting year to start the tailgate shows.


“Supposed to be a huge season,” Pocket said. “The men’s team received 34 of 35 first-place votes in the preseason poll while the women’s team was picked to finish second.”


“On a campus that frankly lacks the pride and camaraderie of most schools, I think the Grizz Gang brings an element of that,” Bauer said. “I respect that.”