=Let me put the dummies to rest right away.
Financially, moving to the Big 12 was the right move for West Virginia University.
Artistically, maybe or maybe not will the move work out. The first year was something of a disaster, if you consider the football team was simply a game better than .500 and was slaughtered by Syracuse, of all teams, in a minor bowl game, and the men’s basketball team failed to reach .500 or post-season play.
Add to that there is no men’s soccer league in the Big 12, and the wrestling team faces competition it never has been able to match. The women’s basketball team was no better than .500 in league play, leading only in injuries, and other than the yearly NCAA championship in rifle, there weren’t many bragging rights.
With the lack of common geography, history and interests, the fit may not work out, but financially it will be fine … if money can buy happiness.
I know. Last year WVU lost $12 million, and there wasn’t much happiness in the reaction from many in the public.
It wasn’t as though they weren’t warned.
“There are a lot of changes going on,” athletic director Oliver Luck said at the time the deal was being negotiated. “We have buyouts and other Big 12 costs. We’re working extraordinarily hard to figure how to do it in a fiscally responsible manner.
“We’ve increased (football) ticket prices and (Mountaineer Athletic Club) donations. We’re working on concessions and sponsorships. It is challenging. But we looked at the bigger picture and I think any board of trustees, etc., would have made the same decisions.”
You will recall that a year ago WVU paid $20 million to the Big East as an escape ransom and put $500,000 into getting out of playing Florida State.
They even somehow managed to lose nearly a quarter of a million dollars going to the Orange Bowl, but that, at least, is money well-spent.
Yes, a $12 million loss throbs, but certainly it is understandable when you consider the money that was dished out on a one-time basis.
This year Luck, the driving force behind the jump away from the dying Big East, predicts there will be another $50,000 shortfall, which is really just pocket change in this world in which we live.
Again, before writing off the decision to make the jump as a financial disaster, consider the first season in the Big 12 brought the Mountaineers only half the payoff … which jumps to more than $20 million.
“We’ll be a 50 percent member (financially) this year,” Luck told a WVU Faculty Senate meeting on Monday. “It will be 67 percent, then 85 and then 100. When you get to 85 and 100, that’s substantial. We’re talking about a payout of $20 million a year compared to (what the Big East paid) $7-8 million.”
The new Big East, going under the name of the American Athletic Conference, is paying out an estimated $2 million a year per team … which effectively should keep it from becoming an athletic power in the major sports.
Better days lie ahead for the bank account as WVU’s participation in revenue payoff grows on a sliding scale until it reaches 100 percent and that $12 million deficit turns into an $8 million annual profit … and that’s not taking into account a few more million out of Tier 3 rights being sold or for the day when the markets for football and basketball coaches come back to reality.
What you must understand is that this is an adjustment period for WVU in the Big 12.
Not a honeymoon period, mind you.
It is too stormy to be a honeymoon, but it is a time when the school and its athletic teams and coaches must accept the reality of the moment, that belts must be tightened some and expectations grown into.
In the Big East, WVU was a power.
In the Big 12, it’s little more than a new kid on the block and its history and traditions are far more similar to Syracuse and its neighbors than it is to Oklahoma or Texas, the driving forces and richest schools who set the Big 12 standards.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
=Let me put the dummies to rest right away.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
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.
University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins
The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.
Huggins signs junior college guard
Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0
Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.
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- East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters