The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 22, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN- Is WVU turmoil worst ever?

MORGANTOWN — Anyone who reads daily newspapers or listens to the evening news should be well aware of the fact that there is — and has been — considerable turmoil athletically at West Virginia University.

In my opinion, it is the worst mess in my 67 years of reporting on the Mountaineer sports beat. And the stakes obviously are tremendously higher than ever before financially.

About six months ago I telephoned Drew Payne, chairman of the WVU Board of Governors then, as now. I asked why his members weren’t concerned that it seemed the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was spending money like it was going out of style.

Payne’s reply was that the board of governors agreed that WVU President James Clements and athletic director Oliver Luck should be free to spend whatever they determine would be best for the university.

He readily admitted that he feels, as a growing number of people do, that spending in college athletics nationwide has become too costly.

But my question is: Does that make it right? I don’t know for sure. I’m just asking.

However, when college presidents first began paying football and basketball head coaches million-dollar salaries, the cost of a game would eventually get down to longtime loyal season-ticket buyers.

And, indeed, it has hit them hard. Hundreds of my friends have told me they no longer can afford to buy tickets, and

each was a loyal Mountaineer fan of long, long standing.

Many folks now tell me they already have quit as season-ticket purchasers (football ticket orders now are being accepted for next fall’s home games). So my thought is that game attendance will be somewhat lower for both football and basketball home games in 2013-14.

Efforts by the media to get comments from WVU officials about various athletic matters have become more difficult lately. Their general response is they cannot comment while these matters are still being discussed.

You rarely see direct quotes from Luck, much less Dr. Clements, who has spoken, if any, through associates on these athletic matters.

The university’s athletic department waited until last month to tell us that it finished fiscal 2011-12 ending last June 30 with a record-setting $13 million deficit for that 12-month period. And reportedly that does not include pending payments on three internal loans. It is undoubtedly the biggest batch of red ink in the athletic department’s history.

You may recall that it cost WVU $20 million just to get out of the Big East Conference to join the Big 12 Conference by July 1, 2012.

Some people think that was a mistake. Do you? Travel has been greater in distances — and more expensive — for both of the two major sports this year. And coaches and players have mentioned the wear and tear as a factor in road game performance.

So much so, the Big 12 commissioner reportedly will be asked to schedule WVU basketball games — men and women’s — on the road on a double-up weekend basis. Saturday at one school and Monday at another. That would save money and also be better for the teams.

Why wasn’t that an arrangement made for their 2012-13 academic-athletic school year?

Growing up, I always learned, at a very early age, that integrity is a very important tool to possess.

Yet we’ve read about allegations of improper bidding procedures and even possible conflicts of interest in the turmoil at WVU.

It’s terribly disheartening, but I’m wishing my alma mater well.

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WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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

  • 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.

    April 17, 2014

  • 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.

    April 17, 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

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

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