The Times West Virginian

Sports

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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