Cross country, track & WVU
By: Jim Woolfitt
· Who is the only member of the Big12 not to offer men’s cross country and men’s track?
· Among the tri-state’s flagship universities (UK, OSU & WVU), who is the only one not to offer men’s cross country and men’s track?
· Which of West Virginia’s D-1 schools, Marshall & WVU, does not offer men’s cross country?
If you answered “WVU” to all 3 questions, you must be, according to WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, the sophisticated type of person who plays golf, not the sort who might run cross country or track. Luck recently stated in explaining his decision to reinstate men’s golf at WVU: “I had a chance over the last year or two to meet a number of very passionate, successful business people including federal judges, doctors, lawyers, developers who really got us excited about bringing back the sport of men’s golf.”
As I remember when WVU dropped men’s cross country & men’s track in 2002, one of the excuses given was that this was a trend. Other schools would be joining WVU in dropping men’s cross country & men’s track. Even sports columnist Bob Hertzel, who has been outspoken in recent years about WVU not having men’s cross & men’s track, seems to have accepted the notion that it is commonplace for D-1 schools not to have men’s cross country and men’s track. Hertzel’s writing appear in the Fairmont Times West Virginian.
The point I want to make is that it is very unusual for a “power football conference member” like WVU not to have either men’s cross country or men’s track.
· All members of the Big 10 have both men’s cross country & men’s track or at least until Maryland joins. Maryland has men’s track but not men’s cross country.
· 13 of the 14 member SEC have both men’s cross country & men’s track. Vanderbilt does not have track while South Carolina does not have cross country.
· All members of the ACC have both men’s cross country & men’s track except Maryland
· Even in the lowly Big East Conference, 13 of 15 members for the 2012-2013 school year had men’s track while 14 of 15 schools had men’s cross country.
· Even in the still lowlier MAC, 9 of 12 schools have men’s cross country and 6 of the 12 have men’s track.
Forget the argument about Title IX. The “power football conferences” seem to be able to work with this mandate to give the ladies equal funding & yet still have men’s cross country and men’s track.
Forget the argument about money. I seem to remember reading the WVU’s athletic budget was among the top 30 for D-1 schools. Even if the budget ranks #105 (like the football team’s defensive ranking last season) WVU could still field a men’s cross country team if not a men’s track team.
Forget the argument about track facilities at WVU needing a major overhaul. (Isn’t it funny they are good enough for the women’s teams?) I’m sure there are few other “power football conference” schools which could use some renovated track facilities. Who says WVU would have to host a track meet anyway?
Forget that Oliver Luck might secretly prefer selling martinis and mint juleps at home football games rather than beer if he could just draw a crowd made up exclusively of the right type of folks, those “successful business people including federal judges, doctors, lawyers, developers…”, not the “riff raff” who buy many of the football season tickets currently. Anyone remember his condescending statement that WVU football fans couldn’t afford another home football game as his excuse for scheduling a I-AA school at a neutral site? The point is not that WVU has a “hoity toity” athletic director who views his school’s fans as the “hoi polloi”. The point is that, unlike water polo, almost all D-1 colleges have men’s cross country & almost all the “power football conferences” have men’s track, too (but not WVU).
Remember, when someone tells you that it’s commonplace not to have men’s track & men’s cross country, in the words of the song from the musical Porgy and Bess, that “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”