HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When you think of Marshall and WVU coming together, you probably think of the many bitter battles between the two rivals on the football field or basketball court.
But Tuesday brought a new era for the two schools.
"This is a symbol of the solidarity between WVU and Marshall going forward and how critical it is that we work together in the future," Marshall President Stephen Kopp said.
President Kopp and WVU president E. Gordon Gee have agreed to team up in what's increasingly becoming a tough time for universities.
"Higher education has changed dramatically during the last 30 to 35 years," Gee said. "We can no longer afford to be in competition. We have to be in collaboration. We have to be colleagues."
Kopp said the schools will put the past behind them and work on the bigger issues affecting schools across the nation.
"The competition will be on the playing surfaces, not between us," Kopp said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a lot of problems to solve. Were both committed to working together to solve them."
One issue that ties both WVU and Marshall together is the rising cost of getting a college education.
"Parents are squeezed," Gee said. "There's a $1.3 trillion deficit in terms of student loans. States have no money. Therefore, were going to have to rethink the nature of higher education in order to make sure that we improve quality but that we moderate costs."
The two leaders also hope by uniting forces, they'll have a louder voice when it comes to fighting for state funding.
"We need to carry that message all over the state," Kopp said, "and so doing it's not just making the case for WVU or Marshall or both of us. It's making the case for why higher education and pursuing higher education is so vitally important to our future and our collective future."
"These two institutions alone are the most important economic, social and cultural institutions in this state and our intent is to make sure that we do make a difference by working very close together," Gee said.