The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

January 30, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Treatment of Mike Parsons a real shame

MORGANTOWN — For several months it has been rumored that well-liked Mike Parsons would be leaving West Virginia University after nearly 35 years as an outstanding member of the athletic department staff.

As you may have heard, the Charleston native now has been notified that his contract as longtime deputy director of athletics will not be renewed June 30, 2014. They’ve cleaned out his desk in the Coliseum.

In my opinion, this is just another damaging, unjustified blow by athletic director Oliver Luck, who took over his position on June 9, 2010.

I’m told Luck didn’t even extend the courtesy of informing Parsons in person. The bad news came by messenger.

That’s not surprising to a guy who’s been reporting on WVU athletic events for more than 70 years, though. Luck has rarely held a press conference to give the media opportunities to ask questions. As a result, he has raised so many unanswered questions by his moves that he may have set an all-time WVU record.

That is, except for WVU athletic news bits he feeds to buddies on the Charleston newspapers. I’m certainly not jealous, believe me.

There had been reports, even before Luck’s arrival, that attempts by one or more members of the WVU Board of Governors tried unsuccessfully to have Parsons dismissed, seemingly strictly on personal bias.

Luck, himself a former member of the BOG, helped in the selection of Dr. Jim Clements as WVU president. Clements, in turn, hired Luck as A.D.

Clements resigned recently to become president at Clemson University.

Meantime, Luck was passed over for the more lucrative athletic director position at Texas. He has a law degree from there and reportedly had been widely considered for that job.

Don’t feel sorry for Luck, though. Thanks to the BOG and Clements, the Ohio native is pocketing an annual base salary of about 700,000 and incentives.

That’s about three times the salary of $228,000 Ed Pastilong was being paid when he retired after 21 years as Luck’s predecessor. Pastilong had a total of 35 years of athletic administration work.

Since retiring as an NFL player, Luck served in a variety of roles – all at the professional sports level. There are those who think he has turned the WVU sports program from an amateur to a money-making professional venture.

Some say that’s widespread collegiately in the country today. But does that, if true, really make it right?

As for Mike Parsons, I have known him longer than anyone here. I first met him when he was a student public relations type at Morris Harvey College in Charleston. The 59-year-old WVU goodwill ambassador has come a long way since then.

He probably has made more friends during his 35 years here than anyone else now a part of his alma mater and mine.

Those include not only people with whom he has so diligently worked in Morgantown but with other people around the state. What’s more, Parsons loves the university and the roles he fulfilled.

He also dealt with radio and television people throughout the U.S. on behalf of West Virginia. He has been especially popular with all athletes, coaches and associates. They’re still friends and key contacts.

Mike and wife Julie have three children, and the fine family remains a key part of the Mountain State. They love WVU and its surroundings.

It’s a shame that Parsons now faces the necessity to look elsewhere and continue his brilliant career.

After serving as an assistant sports information staffer at Florida State briefly, Parsons joined the WVU athletic department as sports information director in 1979 under then-A.D. Dick Martin.

In 1982 he was named assistant A.D. for communications under the Fred Schaus. Then he was promoted to the position of deputy A.D. by Ed Pastilong.

Parsons was retained in that role when Luck took over as A.D. in 2010.

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Mickey Furfari
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Five major sports topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers.
    However, he told me he faces knee-replacement surgery. So he’s going to find it necessary to give up bowling during a period of rehab. Hart has competed in an amazing total of 45 U.S. Bowling Congress tournaments during his outstanding career.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-Mountaineer track star dies; WVU athlete arrests may be concern

    I’ve learned belatedly that James Gordon “Jim” Dial, an outstanding men’s track and field sprinter at West Virginia University during the late 1940s, has died.
    He was a native of Huntington who earned All-State first team status. The Huntington High star led all scorers in the state Track Championship meets in both 1946 and ’47.

    July 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Jedd Gyorko running and taking batting practice now

    A report on the internet at this week’s start indicated that Morgantown’s Jedd Gyorko might be ready finally to rejoin the San Diego Padre’s starting lineup.
    He has been on the Major League’s disabled list since June 3. Problems with his feet was given as the reason Gyorko was unable to keep playing.

    July 16, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU hopes to boost season-ticket sales

    West Virginia University’s season-ticket sales for football are the lowest in nine years just two months before this season’s first home game.
    That will be on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Towson State. The Big 12 portion of the schedule follows.

    July 10, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: San Diego Padres’ Gyorko remains on disabled list

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may interest you:
    • Jedd Gyorko still is not active with the San Diego Padres. The former West Virginia University standout has been on the baseball’s disabled list for just over a month and hopes to return soon.

    July 9, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: It had to feel like ‘Ol’ Home Week’ for the Tricketts

    It might have felt like a bit of “Ol’ Home Week’ to West Virginia University starting quarterback Clint Trickett.
    His parents, Rick and Tara Trickett, were in the Morgantown area and stopped by to spend some time with Clint. They still live in Tallahassee, Florida.

    July 3, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU football season-ticket sales approximately 26,000

    Stringing together some odds and ends about sports that may be of interest to you:
    • West Virginia University season-ticket sales for the 2014 football campaign have reached approximately 26,000. That’s some 2,000 since the count of 24,000 when the renewal deadline was reached.

    June 27, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: USA Today has WVU 78th in football countdown from No. 128 to No. 1

    Like Las Vegas oddsmakers, USA Today’s sports writer Paul Myerberg doesn’t rank West Virginia highly in that newspaper’s early college football predictions in a copyrighted piece.
    In one of its thorough pieces, USA Today analyzed West Virginia in its No. 78 ranking among 128 college teams. That’s what is called a countdown from No. 128 to No. 1.

    June 24, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Las Vegas oddsmakers not kind to WVU in early listings

    Not long ago, I guessed that the West Virginia University football team will go 6-6 during the 2014 football season.
    That was based strictly on a hunch. It would show at least some improvement over last year’s pitiful 4-8 finish.

    June 22, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Five different items about a variety of sports

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • In a continuing federal court case out West, an economist recently testified that student athletes could receive as much as $1 million were he or she given a half share of a major college’s revenue from network game broadcasts over a four year period.

    June 18, 2014

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