STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The NCAA has agreed to allow a team of military veterans to compete in an upcoming college golf tournament in Connecticut.
The University of Connecticut is hosting the Til Duty Is Done 2016 Collegiate Invitational this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Baltic.
UConn said Monday it has received a waiver from the NCAA allowing a team from the Veteran Golfers Association to compete alongside the 12 college teams in the tournament.
The tournament is designed to bring attention to Til Duty Is Done, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans reintegrate into society after completing tours of duty overseas. The group provides help with such things as housing, job interviews and counseling for post-traumatic stress.
Last year, veterans served as volunteers on the course. This year, UConn Coach Dave Pezzino asked that a VGA team be allowed to play.
"I couldn't think of a better way to show respect for our military and say thank you than to invite them to compete," he said. "I think it's also important for our young men to meet these guys and realize there is a world beyond Division I golf."
Pezzino said the military team will be playing for the same trophy as the college teams, something that excites 34-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Micah Tilley who is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, just outside of Tacoma, Washington.
"I'm excited to play against talented college golfers, since I joined the Army right after high school and never played in college," he said in a statement.
UConn and Team VGA will be joined at the tournament by teams from Army, Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fordham, Hartford, Holy Cross, LIU Brooklyn, Sacred Heart, St. Bonaventure, UMass-Lowell and Rhode Island.
The teams will play two rounds on Saturday and a final round on Sunday.