LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Most people think of college football as
a black-and-blue sport. For New Mexico State, it's time to think
The Aggies will wear pink socks and their coaches will wear pink
golf shirts for a Sept. 29 home game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in
a push to raise money for breast cancer research, a cause close to
coach Hal Mumme's heart.
His wife, June, was diagnosed in late 1996. She began
chemotherapy treatments a few months later -- right after Mumme was
hired as Kentucky's coach.
"It's a terrible disease and a lot of people have to go through
it," Mumme said. "When you see what your wife is going through
and what your friends are going through, what to call on
third-and-9 doesn't seem that important."
The fundraising push is called "Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear
The players will wear pink ribbon stickers on their helmets and
the field will be painted with large pink ribbon stencils. The
marching band will wear pink, and organizers hope to sell pink
T-shirts to fans in a bid to "pink out" the 30,343-capacity
"We're talking to everyone from the campus bookstore to
independent retailers," co-organizer Kelley Coffeen said.
It's reminiscent of efforts by Major League Baseball in recent
years, where sluggers have used pink bats for games on Mother's Day
to promote breast cancer awareness.
June Mumme survived the disease and subsequently became active
in the cause during her husband's coaching stops at Kentucky and
Southeastern Louisiana. The coach, in his third season with the
Aggies, said this event marks the couple's first push in New
The difference this time is the scope.
June Mumme said she'd drive around Kentucky to address any group
that offered. Often, she'd join her husband at charity golf events.
But until now, her biggest tie-in with football might have
involved presenting a charity check at halftime.
This time, she was determined to think on a larger scale.
Although kickoff for the targeted game is more than a month
away, organizers working behind the scenes already have raised
$77,000. And the money is staying home -- all the funds will go
toward cancer research at New Mexico State.
"College football carries such a high profile," June Mumme
said. "It's the perfect vehicle for us to promote something that's
happening on our campus that ordinarily wouldn't get the same level
Mumme described how her diagnosis came in the middle of the 1996
season, when her husband was having one of his best years as a
coach in leading Valdosta State in Georgia to a 10-3 record and the
Division II playoffs.
But there was more under the surface that fall.
Within an eight-month span of June Mumme's diagnosis, two of the
couple's friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. One died within
a year; the other died last spring after a 10-year battle against
As a survivor, Mumme felt compelled to help others.
She stressed the disease doesn't affect only the women, because
husbands and families offer support during treatments and grieve
when a loved one is lost.
"It affects men in ways far beyond what many people think
about," she said.
New Mexico State administrators agreed to pick up much of the
costs associated with the football game promotion -- paint for the
field and uniform alterations, for example. The Mummes, meanwhile,
will do whatever is needed to boost awareness.
"We've been involved in the cause for a long time," coach
Mumme said. "June does all the work. All I do is show up to help.
But I'm happy to do whatever I can and our players are ready to
help, too. It's just a terrible disease."