The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 2, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Hawley contributed to WVU in a variety of ways

MORGANTOWN — Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest for you:

• There are numerous good reasons that West Virginia University named its historic baseball field in memory of Roy M. “Legs” Hawley.

The Bluefield, West Virginia, native was a rare five-year letterman in baseball as a Mountaineer way back there in 1922-23-24-25-26. He also excelled in basketball for three letter-winning seasons (1923-24-25). What’s more, Hawley served as team captain in both sports as a senior.

Then he returned to his alma mater and became one of the institution’s most popular and productive athletic directors. Hawley filled that position from 1938 until he died in 1954.

Ironically, while he was hospitalized in Pittsburgh, the Southern Conference basketball tournament he had attracted to Morgantown was being played at the old Field House. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack there at the age of 53.

Hawley had also been responsible for getting WVU into the first-ever conference affiliation in school history.

The Hall of Famer, thanks to his New York City and Madison Square Garden connections, got WVU into the National Invitation Tournament in 1942. The last-seeded Mountaineers in the field upset their way to the title.

Hawley also was involved in WVU attracting its Jan. 1, 1954 Sugar Bowl game against Georgia Tech — the school’s first major postseason football appearance.

• I’m told by my friend Norman Julian that the NCAA is considering an extension of the normal baseball season. That would allow competition into the summer.

It’s my firm feeling that such a move would be a major mistake and raise some interesting questions to be answered.

Wouldn’t that border on lifting baseball from an amateur to at least semi-pro status? How would the extended play affect a student-athlete’s academic standing as far as the overall four-year picture is concerned?

You be the judge. Keep in mind that back there as early as the 1920s, WVU played no more than 20 games, starting the season after basketball ended. Today the number of games is almost 60 a year.

Three-sport athletes were common for many years. But it’s become almost non-existent.

College athletes have grown, in many institutions, into more of a money-making effort than necessary. And the fan base is feeling the pinch and it’s shrinking.

• In that connection, may I ask whether the NCAA realizes that it could put the longtime cherished American Legion baseball program out of business?

Think of the many, many years that wonderful veterans’ organization contributed financially to the development of both high school and college athletes at the amateur level.

I covered Morgantown’s highly successful American Legion baseball teams from 1949 through Aug. 1, 1989 as sports editor in Morgantown.

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