A smorgasbord of news and notes as we inch closer toward the start of another athletic season at West Virginia University …
- Director of Athletics Oliver Luck is clearly pleased with the help West Virginia University received from the Big 12 Conference regarding its recently announced men’s and women’s basketball schedules.
Last year, both the men and the women had a difficult time adjusting to the heavy travel schedules, time zone changes and frequent late-night tip times. Well, this year’s Big 12 schedules clearly address most of those issues.
For the men, West Virginia will have two back-to-back league road trips this year – the Jan. 4-6 games at TCU and Texas Tech and the Jan. 25-28 games at Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Also, at least six of this year’s conference road games will tip off before 7 p.m. with four of those six games being afternoon start times, enabling the team to return to Morgantown at a more reasonable time.
Furthermore, the men will be on the road for the first week of conference play in early January when the WVU students are on break.
“We asked for those things and the league was able to accommodate us,” said Luck.
The West Virginia women, too, got some assistance from the conference. Like the men, the women will be on the road for the first week of Big 12 play in early January when the students are away from campus. Jan. 2-4 road trips to Kansas and Oklahoma State and the Jan. 22-25 road games at Texas Tech and Texas will also be doubled up, meaning the team doesn’t have to return to Morgantown from Lubbock, Texas and then fly back to Austin, Texas to play another game in the Lone Star State as it did last season.
“They helped us,” said West Virginia women’s coach Mike Carey. “I am happy with what the conference was able to do for us.”
- You can look for improved cellular phone service at Milan Puskar Stadium this fall. Work by leading wireless communications company Crown Castle, Inc. continues at the stadium as it installs the necessary infrastructure to improve the data service for home football games this season.
The service should be deployed in time for the Saturday, Aug. 31 opener against William & Mary with coverage expanding to adjacent WVU parking lots.
Most major carriers should be on board by the end of the season.
Crown Castle has coverage in 92 of the top 100 U.S. markets, while owning, operating and managing approximately 1,600 wireless communications sites in the U.S. and Australia.
- For the technically savvy, the Mountaineer Ticket Office today announced the implementation of a pick-your-own-seat map for single-game football and men’s basketball ticket purchases starting this year. Fans will now have the option of going online to http://www.wvugame.com
and choosing the best remaining seats for home games at Milan Puskar Stadium and the WVU Coliseum.
In addition, Mountaineer fans will also be able to take advantage of a new mobile ticket delivery system the ticket office is unveiling for football and men’s basketball games this year.
“You can select to have your ticket emailed to your smart phone and you just open the file on your phone to be scanned at the stadium when you enter the gate,” said Matt Wells, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales. “Both of those options are available only for single-game tickets and not season ticket purchases.”
According to Wells, Mountaineers fans can access both features right now online.
“This is an effort to make our ticket buying system more fan friendly,” noted Wells.
- On Monday, IMG announced that 13 stations have joined the new radio network, while earlier today, Charleston’s WMXE (FM 100.9) signed on to give the burgeoning network 36 affiliates covering West Virginia as well as southwestern Virginia, eastern Maryland and southeastern Ohio.
As stations continue to be added, it is becoming obvious that IMG values having clearly established markets in West Virginia. Sure, it’s nice to have stations on your radio network with powerful signals but it is also important to avoid having a bunch of overlapping markets, which causes much consternation for local station owners. In some instances, there were as many as three or four powerful stations from far away markets flooding a single area with Mountaineer games.
Now, with IMG’s new market strategy there will be less bleed over. That means Mountaineer fans in Fairmont can listen to long-time announcer Tony Caridi’s call on the Fairmont station while those in nearby Mannington and Morgantown can pick up the action in their respective markets. And that will make life much simpler for both the local stations and the Mountaineer Sports Network.
- The West Virginia University men’s soccer team is taking advantage of a unique opportunity to train at the Grande Sports Academy in Casa Grande, Ariz. for three days beginning Wednesday, Aug. 14, and continuing through Friday, Aug. 16.
The team will have access to Real Salt Lake’s $20 million training facility that includes nine professional-grade soccer fields, six training rooms, a strength facility and classrooms. A new NCAA rule now permits men’s soccer teams to take preseason training trips like this.
“What happens in preseason quite often - especially in football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer - is there is nobody here when you start off,” explained WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc. “It’s blistering hot and you come in and you have your morning session and meetings and then they all go off in their own directions and crash for a while and they never get to know each other. Then we come back and do it all again (the next day).
“Well, we want to take some of that dead time to try and get them to know each other a little bit instead of them going off on their own in between,” LeBlanc mentioned.
Getting the opportunity to train in a different climate for a few days also has its benefits, says LeBlanc.
“I love the idea of training in the altitude,” he said. “I love the idea of training in the hot desert. There are some benefits to that both physically and mentally.”
This year’s travel group includes a strength and conditioning coach, an athletic trainer and a sports information director. Select Mountaineer players will provide online updates during their time down in Arizona.
- The WVU Varsity Club has several reunions planned this fall during home football weekends, according to Varsity Club Director Dale Wolfley.
The first team reunion will take place on Saturday, Aug. 31 for the William & Mary football game when all former Mountaineer women’s track and cross country athletes are being invited back to campus.
The Georgia State game during the weekend of Sept. 14 will include team reunions for swimming and diving, rifle and gymnastics. Additionally, the first rifle national championship team in 1983 will be recognized on the field at some point during the game.
The 40th anniversary of Mountaineer volleyball will be celebrated during the weekend of Sept. 28 when the football team plays host to Oklahoma State. Also, a wrestling team reunion is being planned for that weekend as well.
The annual Varsity Club Weekend for all sports will take place around the Texas Tech football game on Oct. 19, while the 20th anniversary of West Virginia’s 1993 Sugar Bowl team will be celebrated when the Mountaineers battle Texas on Saturday, Nov. 9.
Former Mountaineer athletes wishing to participate in their respective team reunions can contact Dale Wolfley at the WVU Varsity Club office by calling (304) 293-9563.
- And finally, the WVU Golf Tour benefitting the new Mountaineer men’s golf program rolls on with Monday, Aug. 19 stops at Parkersburg Country Club and Glade Springs Resort.
A final event is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, at Pete Dye Country Club in Bridgeport.
Susan Hammond, who is helping coordinate the golf events for the Mountaineer Athletic Club, says there are spots still available for all three events, although the Pete Dye outing is filling up fast.
You can register by contacting the West Virginia Golf Association by calling (304) 391-5000 or by logging on to http://www.wvga.org
. This year’s golf tour is being presented by Coca-Cola, Sledd, Michelob Ultra and Little General Stores.