Posts Tagged ‘WVU’

WVU chief Gee whizzes by, leaves a couple of presents

Monday, January 19, 2015

West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee keeps such a busy schedule that it takes a team to keep him shuttling from appointment to appointment.

He was in town last week for the start of the new legislative session and stopped by the Daily Mail newsroom to take a few questions from reporters.

His time was limited, so it was sports editor Chuck McGill and city/county reporter Matt Murphy who had the chance to bend his ear.

Murphy pressed Gee on the fate of West Virginia University Tech in Montgomery now that WVU had purchased the former Mountain State University property in Beckley. Given that its sudden availability was “like manna from heaven,” Gee was circumspect in his school’s plans for the two campuses.

Think that response was open-ended? Consider the unexploded bombshell he left with McGill when he said of a renewal of playing in-state FBS-school Marshall University in football. Gee said if new WVU athletic director Shane Lyons was open to sitting down with Marshall AD Mike Hamrick to discuss the possibility, “I have no problem with it whatsoever.”

And then, like the Cat in the Hat, he was gone.

Gee’s intelligence, attentiveness, energy and gregariousness lends itself to a rock star-like following among his supporters at the schools he has led. So I was not immune to imposing on him for the chance at a selfie as he was leaving with my alma mater’s popular president.

Indulgences like those, his spokeswoman Becky Lofstead said with a grin and a roll of the eyes, is what makes visits last longer than planned. Still, brief though it was, his presence in the newsroom gifted the paper with a couple of timely stories in the public interest.

Social media reaction to Oliver Luck’s departure

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Everything old is on fire again

Monday, October 20, 2014

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Now that the fires are tamped down and the Dumpsters returned to their homes, the hand-wringing over post-game rioting following West Virginia University’s upset of then-No. 4 Baylor has begun in earnest.

As anyone who follows college sports can tell you, Morgantown has a dubious distinction for its incendiary celebrations after big wins.

In 2012, the last time this happened — maybe too long ago for for a lot of fans — head coach Dana Holgorsen had some words for those tempted to take their festivities too far: “I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that.”

(Of course, days after those optimistic words, Texas Tech went on to upset WVU and set in motion a slide from which the team only now seems to be recovering, which, while it might explain the pent-up excitement, offers no excuse for the destruction.)

I wrote a column back in 2002, after we defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, 21-18, our last Top 5 upset. It was an effort to put into context a supposed “tradition” and its place in WVU’s new reality.

But while the Mountaineers’ sports landscape has changed dramatically — and for the better — it appears not much else has.

My turn: Burning couches isn’t new

If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
In 2002, the last time West Virginia University defeated a Top 5 team, revelers set more than 30 fires in Morgantown.

In 2002, the last time West Virginia University defeated a Top 5 team, revelers set more than 30 fires in Morgantown.

As a responsible furniture owner, let me just say I was shocked by the reports of rampant couch burning by West Virginia University students after last week’s upset of Virginia Tech. 

What’s the matter with these kids? Don’t they know how much a good sectional couch costs?

Besides, in my day, burning things meant something. Sure, we wanted to burn sections of something — sections of town.

Those were the days when the legal drinking age was 18, our nearest rival, the University of Pittsburgh, was only a few years removed from their last national championship and cocky, future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino stood behind center. We wanted to knock off someone big — anyone big.

By the time I got to school, our record against powerhouses such as Pitt and Penn State was dismal enough that I was told should we ever beat one of them, we would burn down Morgantown’s legendary bar district, Sunnyside.

It was almost like a high-stakes bet, as if a big-time victory were so dear, we would sacrifice the thing nearest and dearest to an undergraduate’s heart to achieve it. In this case, it was a row of wonderfully low establishments serving up our favorite frothy beverages.

That first year, down fell Oklahoma. Then, later, Pitt. And eventually, even Penn State.

Each time, as if from a congress of pigskin shamans, the incantation arose: “Sunnyside burns! Sunnyside burns!” But it never did.

Impromptu bonfires were lit, put out and re-started. And, yes, upholstery somehow got involved then, too.

Still, my friends and I knew that the handful of truly determined firebugs weren’t in their right minds, just addled, excitable and in need of attention. We stood back and tried not to get in their way.

Once in a while, one of us would hoot. Mostly, we just raised our plastic cups, basked in the glow of a satisfying victory and worked up the nerve to talk to coeds. We were nerds.

Now, with zoning having mostly washed away the neighborhood’s sudsy reputation, Sunnyside is but a sad shadow of its former glory, its value as the payoff to a big bet diminished. There’s no sacrifice in what’s essentially a stretch of sidewalk leading to off-campus housing.

Legends die hard. I can only guess that’s the motivation behind this generation’s celebratory pyromaniacs.

It makes for good copy. A blurb and a roll of the eyes on SportsCenter.

But in the presence of people who didn’t attend my school, I feel like someone sitting with the in-laws’ family at a wedding reception and watching a drunken, distant relative make a fool of himself. There’s great love — and great embarrassment — at what should be a very happy occasion.

Nobody likes being in the hot seat.

A visit from E. Gordon Gee

Thursday, January 9, 2014

E. Gordon Gee, who is president at West Virginia University while the search goes on for a new long-term president, is making the rounds.

gordongeeGee made a big splash earlier this week with a YouTube Top 10 list about his reasons for returning to WVU, where he began many years ago.

Then he appeared at the state Capitol at Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State speech.

On Thursday morning, Gee appeared in the Daily Mail newsroom. I meant to livestream the discussion so you could hear Gee right in the moment but I had connectivity issues. I did manage to record the session, though, so it’s posted below.

Present were Gee, WVU board of governors chairman Jim Dailey (he’s the other guy you can see in the video), university spokesman John Bolt, university relations vice president Sharon Martin, myself (I’m the newspaper’s editor), editorial page editor Kelly Merritt, editorial writer and columnist Don Surber (he’s the one who sometimes appears behind Gee and Dailey; he sat close because he has some trouble hearing) and education reporter Shay Maunz.

Usually these newsroom visits are getting-to-know you sessions, so it was a pretty friendly atmosphere. The newspaper’s official, initial editorial opinion of Gee was already favorable.

If you are interested in getting to know Gordon Gee a little better, here he is: