The West Virginia University Alumni Association is gearing up for a FanFest 2002 blowout in Charleston Dec. 2-3 in anticipation of the long-awaited tip-off between the WVU mens basketball team and the University of Florida.

“We are looking forward to rooting for the Mountaineers as they play the nationally ranked Gators,”said Stephen L. Douglas, chief executive officer of the WVU Alumni Association.”Our local chapter, our team and Coach Beilein all deserve our support. This is a terrific opportunity for our Kanawha Valley alumni, families and friends to come together to celebrate a new era for the WVU mens basketball program.”

The association will launch FanFest with a”Meet the Mountaineers”reception, hosted by the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association, from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at the Charleston Marriott.

Coach John Beilein and the entire basketball team will mingle with local fans, and the John Beilein Statewide Sports Line will air live from the event. Lucky winners in a raffle can win a pair of tickets to the WVU vs. Marshall game on Jan. 22; a pair of tickets to this years bowl game (destination to be determined); or autographed basketball paraphernalia �€with proceeds benefiting the chapters scholarship fund. All WVU alumni, family and friends are invited to attend this free event, sponsored by Acordia.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m., Mountaineer fans are invited to gather for a pep rally at the Charleston Town Center Mall first floor, near J.C. Penny, prior to the WVU -Florida game. Free pom-poms and stickers will be distributed.

Rod Thorn, former WVU basketball standout and current president of the New Jersey Nets, will lead the crowd in a”fan walk”through the streets of Charleston to the Charleston Civic Center. This free, public event is sponsored by Bucci Bailey&Javins, L.C.

FanFest 2002 will conclude with the WVU vs. Florida game at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit the Charleston Civic Center box office or call 1-800-WVU GAME .

The WVU Alumni Association, chartered in 1873, represents more than 145,000 university graduates residing in every county in West Virginia, every state in the nation and approximately 60 foreign countries. With nearly 100 registered chapters and constituent groups, the associations 26,000 dues-paying members support Homecoming Weekend, the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni and dozens of other social and philanthropic programs.