The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 21, 2013

Misled West Virginia students deprived of Big 12 baseball games

By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN — It now appears to be a fact that West Virginia University athletic officials misled students and the general public in not playing any Big 12 Conference baseball games at Hawley Field in Morgantown this season.

All 12 “home” league games were moved to Charleston and Beckley, implying that Hawley Field did not meet Big 12 “minimum standards.”

We’re now informed that the Big 12 has no such guidelines which would have prevented WVU from scheduling all 12 home games at Hawley Field.

Had the university done that, it could have saved some of the deficit spending it costs by taking Mountaineer baseball on the road.

Perhaps Athletic Director Oliver Luck should do the right thing and reimburse part of the school’s mandatory athletic fee.

Only a total of eight games — all non-conference variety — were available to the students at Hawley Field, which was relocated to its Coliseum Complex location in 1971.

Granted, it was a nice gesture giving WVU fans in state cities an opportunity to attend WVU games. But, in doing so, Luck shortchanged students who could not see those contests.

Obviously, they had no say in the matter when the needless decision we all know now was not really necessary.

Sure, virtually all of the “Cowboy Country” Big 12 schools have better ball parks than Hawley Field. They certainly should because of the year-round weather is better and longer-lasting than here in West Virginia.

But Big 12 official Bob Burden confirmed recently that under conference rules, WVU could have played all 12 home games at Hawley Field this year.

Was someone not telling the truth?

As a result, WVU officials now are thinking about playing some of those 12 league contests at Hawley Field while the new baseball park is built within a projected couple of years. There are some people who still think it’s not needed (at a cost of $16.3 million).

In the meantime, Randy Mazey, WVU’s first-year baseball coach, has made it known that he wouldn’t mind playing Big 12 games at Hawley Field next season.

Mazey, who was hired after the 2013 schedule already had been made, said recently: “Speaking from a fan’s perspective, there’s been a lot of talk here about Big 12 baseball. But they haven’t gotten (the opportunity) to see us play Big 12 teams. If I was a Mountaineer fan, I would like to see some Big 12 teams come to town.”

That’s why he admittedly wouldn’t oppose playing at least some home conference games at Hawley Field.

Mazey certainly has done an amazing job this spring with a team picked to finish last. The Mountaineers actually wound up third in the league standings.

WVU meets Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Oklahoma City.