The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 26, 2013

More questions than answers in Hawaii issue

By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN — Whatever happened during a reported scuffling situation after the West Virginia women’s basketball victory against the University of Hawaii at Honolulu obviously was very unfortunate.

 That happened just before honors were to be presented to outstanding players in the three-day tournament.

 However, I’m told that film of that scuffle was not clear enough to identify with certainty exactly who was involved.

 Apparently this much is known: A Hawaii fan sat behind the WVU bench and heckled the Mountaineer coaches and players throughout the tight contest WVU won.

 Ben Jay, the host school’s athletic director, apologized publicly to WVU and fans who attended that game. But I haven’t seen anything about whether the Hawaii heckler was apprehended.

 Isn’t it also fair to ask why Hawaii didn’t have adequate security to avoid such an embarrassment?

 Ben Jay did not say.

 Both colleges understandably sought to gather as much information as possible since the Sunday, Nov. 17, game’s episode.

 Last Thursday, surprisingly to many, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that Lester Rowe, an assistant coach of the WVU women’s team, had been reprimanded by the conference for his conduct in that fracas.

 Without mentioning specifically what that might have been, Bowlsby was quoted as saying that Lester Rowe violated conference rules prohibiting coaches from committing abusive acts “toward opposing teams’ fans.”

 What’s more, the Big 12 commissioner put Rowe on notice that future incidents may result in a more serious penalty.

 Personally, to a guy who covered Rowe as a great basketball player and person, I think both the Big 12 chief—and WVU athletic director Oliver Luck who respected the decision—overreacted in assessing what little they know or have said in detail.

 In my opinion, Bowlsby and Luck have raised more questions than answers to the public in response to this unfortunate incident.

 Have they really considered that a heckler pulling for Hawaii triggered the whole post-game mess?

 Did they find out why the host school didn’t protect West Virginia players, coaches, and fans from such inappropriate heckling during the game?

 Do you have more appropriate questions that have gone unanswered?

 I don’t know. I’m just asking.