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Morgan Park High Grad – Returns as NIU Coach for Big Game

Melvin Rice
Melvin Rice

Melvin Rice, an all-state player named first team All Public League at Chicago’s Morgan Park High School, who went on to become a three-year starter at cornerback for Northern Illinois University from 2006-2008, returns to Chicago as an assistant coach of the NIU Huskies. He will coach the first-ever football game to be held at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.

Melvin Rice said, “I am so pumped to return to Chicago as Coach of the NIU Huskies, which is one of the most successful Division 1 football subdivisions in the nation. We have around 145,000 alumni in the Chicagoland area…many of whom, like me, are African-Americans from the local Chicago community – it will be exciting to play on the Southside at Guaranteed Rate Field!”

Rice returned to NIU after one season at Southeast Missouri, where he coached cornerbacks in 2015. Prior to that, he was on the defensive staff of former NIU head coach Jerry Kill at Minnesota from 2011-2014. He began his coaching career with Kill and the Huskies in 2010 as a graduate assistant coach. As a member of head coach Tom Matukewicz’ staff at SEMO in 2015, Rice helped the Redhawks rank fourth in the Ohio Valley in scoring defense and in interceptions. As the defensive quality control assistant at Minnesota, Rice handled opponent scouting, self-scouting and day-to-day operations of the defensive staff as the Gophers played in three bowl games during his time there.

As a graduate assistant coach at NIU in 2010, he was part of the staff that led the Huskies to an 11-3 record, its first of what is now six consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship game appearances, and a victory in the Humanitarian (now Famous Idaho Potato) Bowl.

Guaranteed Rate Field is the home of the White Sox. On Wednesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. it will be the site for the Mid-America rivalry game between the Huskies and the Rockets, which is billed as the Huskie Chi-Town Showdown. Rivals on the field, Northern Illinois University and University of Toledo will share the honor of playing in the first football game ever on the field of the stadium built in 1991. Tickets are still available for this game, which will be nationally televised on ESPN. The game is set to be a good one, as NIU is one of the most successful Division I football subdivision teams in the nation.

Guaranteed Rate Field is owned by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, whose CEO, Lou Bertuca, comments, “Our board wanted to increase the number of non-baseball events held at the facility; two members of our board (Manny Sanchez and Jeff Yordon) were in the NIU class of 1970, so it was natural to reach out to NIU for a partnership. The Field is the perfect venue for many of the 145,000 NIU alumni in the Chicago area to enjoy the Huskie Chi-Town Showdown: we’re accessible from all expressways, we’re our own entertainment center, we’re an easy in-and-out facility…and we’ve got the best video boards in the country!

The game time is 7:00 p.m. for the Huskie Chi-Town Showdown at Guaranteed Rate Field, 333 W. 35th St., Chicago. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased at

For questions or more information, call (312) 951-7575.


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