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May 22, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: WVU should reinstate men’s track — not golf

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University has not had a men’s golf team since 1982 in its sports program.

But Oliver Luck, who’s been the school’s athletic director going on three years, reportedly is talking about bringing back that sport “because it’s cheap.”

At least that’s what I read in one of the state newspapers to which he must still be talking, voice to voice.

Luck, who claims he’s not even a golfer himself, also mentioned as possibilities under consideration men’s track and field and men’s tennis.

Hey, why not throw in men’s gymnastics? That’s another sport WVU dropped two years after Bill Bonsall retired in 1980 as the father and longtime coach.

In case you’re wondering, men’s tennis last was played at WVU in 2003. That was the same year men’s track and field was dropped from the sports program to accommodate Title IX and save money.

When Luck took over in 2010, he promised to revive at least some of the dropped men’s sports. But WVU still is one short of the Big 12 Conference minimum.

Apparently the powers-that-be have been too busy spending money freely to seriously consider adding a meaningful sport such as track and field. Isn’t it still the world’s oldest sport?

Track supporters have been calling for resurrection of the men’s version for the past 10 years. And when Luck makes men’s golf an official addition, they will most likely be even angrier.

It will just multiply the turmoil that’s still brewing athletically at the university. And restoring the sport of golf rather than returning track and field does not make more common sense in my opinion.

To some folks, golf is more for an individual enjoyment — not honest-to-good team competition.

For lack of track, WVU continues to lose some top-notch football recruits since 2003. It has had numerous football/track students over the years.

James Jett was probably the most recent, most outstanding and most highly honored football/track star in the university’s sports history.

The Shenandoah Junction native came to WVU on a football scholarship and left not only as a four-year starter at wide receiver, but as a seven-time All-American and Olympic gold medalist in track and field.

He earned letters in 1989-90-91-92 in both sports and left marvelous marks. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame and also into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Jett was also a three-year selection as West Virginia’s Track Athlete of the Year.

Why not give other athletes the same opportunities at WVU?

Like Oliver Luck, I am not a golfer. Neither am I a scholar or lawyer. But to me, restoring men’s track and field makes a lot more sense than golf.

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