The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

July 2, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN- Governor doesn’t respond to inquiries

MORGANTOWN — You may recall, if you are a regular reader of this column, that a few days before West Virginia’s June 20 birthday, I suggested that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin call for an outside investigation into West Virginia University’s troubled athletic department.

As I’ve said previously, the turmoil is the worst — by far — in my 68 years of reporting on the Mountaineer sports beat.

It allegedly involves members of the school’s Board of Governors, WVU President Jim Clements, Athletic Director Oliver Luck and others, I was told. It included such things as cited inequities, conflicts of interest, violations of the school’s bidding process, etc.

Spending has been violently out of control, all the while, with athletics in debt $13.3 million for fiscal year 2011-12 (six months past the normal reporting date).

Getting back to the governor, I sought to find out whether he has even so much as looked into this mess at WVU. I tried to contact by telephone either Tomblin’s communication director or his secretary. I was told they were still celebrating the state’s birthday.

So I called the governor’s office again Monday, June 24, and failed to reach either of the two people I asked about. But another woman got on the line, took my two questions and promised to respond — hopefully with answers.

However, I have not received any word from the governor’s office since that day — not even a “no comment,” as a member of the state’s media. It’s absolutely a lack of courtesy, if not a lack of respect.

I have not heard or seen anything as to whether Tomblin has even tried to help solve the embarrassing crisis at our university. Nor do I know whether anyone in the state Legislature realizes it’s a serious matter of concern.

Yet each branch of government in Charleston had time at the last gathering to reassemble in special session to approve legislation for construction of a new baseball stadium that growing numbers don’t believe Morgantown really needs.

Is this governor concerned that at least two lawsuits have been filed against his chosen WVU Board of Governors, plus individual members, and President Clements, Luck and other bigwigs?

A governor and some legislators showed that they were concerned some 32 years ago when the athletic department had similar problems.

Then Fred Schaus took over as athletic director and, with changes, got the department out of the red over a period of time.

Schaus, who is deceased, didn’t need to be told to lower athletic department spending. He served very well for nine years.

How long will it take for WVU to clean its red ink in athletics this time and restore some sense of relief?

Only time will tell.

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Mickey Furfari
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Blaney wins 100th Sprint Car race

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may be of interest to you:
    • Dale Blaney, the all-time great West Virginia University basketball star, has achieved another historic notch in his athletic career as a Sprint Car racer. He posted his 100th career riding in the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio last weekend.

    April 12, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- What a wonderful evening with Dr. Stanley ‘Coach’ Kandzari

    This column really is not about sports, per se. But, more importantly, it is about a widely known medical doctor whose nickname happens to be “Coach.”

    April 8, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Turnbull endured many tragedies growing up

    Coach Craig Turnbull, the latest head-coach victim of Oliver Luck’s shocking series of firings at West Virginia University, had generally enjoyed what many rate as an outstanding career not only in athletics but in life.
    Like the present, there also were some very difficult times for him as a youngster.

    April 6, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: All-time WVU great QB Bernie Galiffa dies at 63

    It was very sad to learn that Bernie Galiffa, one of the most outstanding quarterbacks in West Virginia University football history, had passed away.
    The three-year letterman for famed coach Bobby Bowden died last Thursday in Wilmington, N.C., at the age of 63.

    April 4, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Is $106 million in facilities updates really key to WVU sports success?

    You may have heard or read that West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is planning to spend $106 million for major projects.
    According to published reports, that is to improve athletic facilities, including Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium and the WVU Coliseum (yet to be named for a rich donor).

    April 2, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Who’s next on Oliver Luck’s hatchet list?

    Who’s going to be next on Oliver Luck’s sad house-cleaning list as West Virginia University’s athletic director?
    Craig Turnbull, the outstanding head coach and builder of the Mountaineers’ wrestling program for 36 years, was notified on Friday afternoon that Luck shockingly announced that his contract will not be renewed on June 30 for next year.

    March 30, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Herbie Brooks one of Catlett’s early standouts at WVU

    Herbie Brooks, a native of Beckley, was an All-Stater at Mullens High School and demonstrated his talents at West Virginia University from 1984-89 in men’s basketball.
    The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard performed admirably under coach Gale Catlett’s direction.

    March 29, 2014

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