MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics commemorated its first official day as members of the Big 12 Conference Sunday with a cookout at Touchdown Terrace.
Mountaineer student-athletes, coaches and staff were in attendance, in addition to special guest Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 Commissioner. WVU President Jim Clements and Director of Athletics Oliver Luck addressed the crowd and introduced Bowlsby.
“Today is a great day and historic day, not just for West Virginia University, but also for our state,” Luck said. “This is a day that means a lot to all the administrators, our coaches and our student-athletes as we embark on a big adventure, and we’ll have a lot of fun doing it. I feel very comfortable as we raise the bar that we will be able to compete and compete very well.”
At the request of President Clements, Mountaineer Jonathan Kimble pumped up the crowd with a “Let’s Go Mountaineers” chant prior to Clements addressing those in attendance.
“Today is a celebration. It is a big, big day for the institution,” Clements said. “I’m thrilled that we have so many student-athletes here. That is ultimately what it comes down to. It is your hard work, your dedication and your commitment, not only to athletics, but academics and that commitment is really what brings us all together as Mountaineers.”
Luck and Clements welcomed Commissioner Bowlsby with a WVU hat and t-shirt.
“The move into the Big 12 is exhilarating for everybody involved. You’re joining a really rich heritage and you’re bringing your own rich heritage along,” Bowlsby said. “This is a special place. I measure that more in one way than any other way, and that is, the very best people that ever came through here, want to come back here. I don’t think there is a better testimony then the fact that Oliver Luck and Bob Huggins, and many others, have decided that this is where they want to spend their career when they have lots of other options.”
July 1 is the official start date for WVU’s membership into the 10-team league. Along with West Virginia, TCU also became an official member on July 1.
Student-Athlete Reactions to Joining the Big 12 Conference:
“I think the Big 12 is a very good conference and we should do really well in it. The Big 12 is very physical and the atmosphere is very crazy. The crowds are rowdy and I know we’ll need to be prepared for that. Playing in the Coliseum won’t be easy for our opponents either because we have a large fan base, and we appreciate our crowds.” - Jabarie Hinds, men’s basketball player
“I think it will be an exciting, new experience and a good change. It is a very physical league, and we will be surrounded by big crowds a majority of the time. It will be something we will have to get used to on a day-in and day-out basis. I like big crowds; it makes it better when we win.” - Akilah Bethel, women’s basketball player
“It’s exciting. I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from friends and family back home, and being able to be able to play back home in Texas -- it means a lot and it’s going to be great. Before I didn’t get too many chances to go home, but now I’ll be able to be there and play. It was kind of hard for my mom to come see games, but now with us going to the Big 12 she’ll be able to see more games.” - Dustin Garrison, football player
“I’m really excited about the Big 12. It is really competitive and I think it will be really good for our program. We will get to see a lot of new teams and new places and it will be fun and challenging. I’m expecting bigger crowds and louder crowds in volleyball – it will be fun.” - Karly Rasmussen, volleyball player