News Releases

Football Rivalry Leads to Community Benefits for Ithaca and Cortland

ITHACA, NY — On the football field, Ithaca College and Cortland State vie each year for the Cortaca Jug in what “Sports Illustrated” once called “the biggest little game in the nation.” The season-ending game often has playoff implications for both teams, though players say records and standings get thrown out the window when it comes to this battle for pride. Off the field, that rivalry has now taken a different turn as the two schools just 21 miles apart both compete and cooperate for the benefit of their home communities.

  • The Cortaca Climate Challenge has students, faculty, staff and alumni from each institution vying to see who can commit the most to reducing their carbon footprint via the website The campus that has the most enrolled members who have collectively pledged the greatest carbon reductions by November 11 — two days before this year’s Cortaca Jug game — wins not only bragging rights, but a native hardwood tree donated by RPM Ecosystems Nursery, which happens to be located just about halfway between the two colleges.
  • The Cortaca Blood Drive Challenge, held in October, had both campuses contending to contribute the greatest number of units to the American Red Cross. Ithaca won that contest hands down — or rather arms down — collecting 307 units of blood to Cortland’s 58. The Red Cross estimates that each pint of blood can save up to 3 lives, so the combined donations could mean nearly 1,100 lives saved.
  • Students, faculty and staff at each campus are being asked to write a note to a member of the U.S. military or veteran as part of the American Red Cross/Pitney Bowes 2010 Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign.
  • On Saturday, Oct. 30, more than a dozen students from each campus will team up to assist Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties in building a home for the Hutchings family in Cortland.

“We know that fans of the two teams engage in a spirited rivalry that sometimes leads to hostility, and we’ve always encouraged students to let the competition remain on the football field,” said Brian McAree, vice president for student affairs and campus life at Ithaca College. “This year we’re taking a slightly different tack by building some positive collaborations and putting all that pent-up energy into some good causes.”

The 52nd Cortaca Jug game will be played at noon on Saturday, Nov. 13, at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.

While Ithaca and Cortland had been playing against one another in football since 1930, it was in 1959 that the captains of the two teams decided to inject an additional incentive into the game. A $2 jug picked up at a yard sale was painted blue, gold, red and white in honor of the two schools’ colors and became a traveling trophy to be held by each year’s winning team. The first jug ran out of room for scores in the mid-1980s, so a second jug was procured to continue the tradition.

Of the last five Cortaca Jug contests, two games have taken overtime to decide. Ithaca leads the series 34-17 and has won the last three games, including 23-20 in 2009.