INDIANAPOLIS — Some coaches never get to the Final Four.
Make that most coaches.
Bob Huggins waited 18 years to make a return visit.
And then there’s Jim Clements, West Virginia University president.
He walks in the door, flips his hat on the rack and wonders, “What time’s the next flight to Indianapolis?”
Or so it seems.
Ten presidents of the school have come and gone since Jerry West led WVU to the Final Four, interestingly enough in the first year of Elvis J. Stahr Jr.’s term as president of the school, just as Da’Sean Butler and Huggins have led WVU to the showcase of college basketball in Clement’s first season.
“It’s been great,” Clements said on Friday, just before boarding a plane to come to the Final Four. “WVU is a special place. This is the first year and we’re going to the Final Four, President Clinton is coming on campus for graduation, we have reached all-time high in research funding and we’re launching our strategic plan for the future.”
The only thing missing is soup for lunch.
Clements takes no credit for what has happened since he arrived with the school in turmoil over first the Rich Rodriguez debacle, then the Heather Bresch mess, but certainly the image of the university has been rescued rather quickly and efficiently.
“I knew what I was getting into when I came here,” Clements said. “I also know there were a lot of good people, dedicated people. I saw a university with a lot of potential, but I’m just one guy out of thousands.”
He is, however, the only one carrying the title of president, and with that comes the heat in the kitchen, as well as the praise for a job well done.
Certainly, this run to the Final Four has been a huge boost to the school.