The Times West Virginian

Opinion

March 15, 2013

Commitment must be strong for FSU athletics to become ‘elite’

How important is true commitment to Fairmont State University athletics?

Let’s go back more than five decades, to 1952, when Deacon Duvall came to FSU from Rivesville High School to serve as football coach.

His first team won all six games it played, but Duvall wanted to see the Falcons play big-time football against a full West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule and show they could make a mark on the national level.

In 1967 it all became a “dream come true” as the Falcons capped an 11-0 season with a come-from-behind 28-21 win over Eastern Washington in the NAIA championship game at old Mountaineer Field in Morgantown.

There were lessons learned along the way.

In an interview a few years ago, Duvall recalled Fairmont going 9-0 in 1959 but not getting a single vote toward a berth in the NAIA playoffs.

“I thought our kids might be able to compete on a national basis,” Duvall said. “We tried Hillsdale (Mich.). I was wrong.”

Fairmont State fell to Hillsdale, 56-6, the final game in 1961.

“It took a much bigger program,” Duvall said. “A larger coaching staff. It had to be almost a year-round program to compete on the basis of what I thought we could do.”

With the help of Fairmont’s L.O. Bickel, whose son Bruce was a quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy, Duvall was able to observe that institution’s summer program, and Fairmont State moved ahead in football.

“Finally, we developed almost a year-round program with our upperclassmen as well as freshmen,” Duvall said. “I thought we had a chance.”

The Falcons were 8-1 in 1964 and 1965, winning WVIAC titles both seasons and making the NAIA playoffs in 1965, where they lost to St. John’s in Minnesota. Two years later, Duvall and the Falcons brought a national championship to Fairmont with playoff wins over Northern Michigan and Eastern Washington.

Fairmont State didn’t lead the country in resources but had enough, and “our kids made up for it with work.”

Fast forward to today, with the FSU men’s and women’s basketball teams preparing to play in the NCAA Division II Tournament.

For the men, under first-year coach Jerrod Calhoun, it has been a fast turnaround. Last year’s team won eight games. This season, the Falcons’ number of victories has so far increased to 22. There has been a spike in attendance and interest in the program.

In addition, $145,000 was privately donated for the new men’s basketball locker room as well as $25,000 for a theater room where the men’s and women’s teams can watch video. The program also made use of a $15,000 contribution to introduce the concept of a VIP seating area with floor seats.

Calhoun and his staff, though, know they can’t be satisfied with a great one-year turnaround. Continued improvement of facilities is important, and fully funding scholarships is essential.

Currently, the FSU men’s basketball program has 8 1/2 full scholarships to divide among its players. That ranks fourth in the WVIAC, while other schools in the conference such as Alderson-Broaddus College, West Liberty University (which won this year’s WVIAC championship over FSU) and the University of Charleston have 10. A program that has 10 full scholarships to work with is considered a fully funded program.

For the 2013-14 school year, Fairmont State will be making the move to the Mountain East Conference with schools from West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.

“When you’re fully funded it gives you a better chance to win because now you have 10 full scholarships to break up among your team,” Calhoun said. “It’s my goal to get us to be fully funded so we can take this program to an elite level.”

The Fairmont State Athletic Association (FSAA), the arm of the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., charged with raising money in support of athletic scholarships, must continue to play a key role. Assistance from the university is also critical.

To her credit, Dr. Maria Rose, FSU president, knows it, and she’s committed to doing all possible while balancing the myriad other needs of the institution with state budget cuts looming.

“We make sure we are in line with all of the other schools in the conference to make sure we offer a comparable number of scholarships in each one of our sports as the other teams in the conference do,” Rose said.

Rose said the addition of an athletic fundraiser, which is a component in the university’s strategic athletic master plan, will be implemented in the near future. That will enable the university to complement the work of the FSAA.

FSU will certainly see other universities have more resources, but its coaches and players deserve a commitment from the administration to the point where they have a fighting chance.

History shows, given that, greatness is not guaranteed, but it’s certainly possible.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads