WVU To Explore Beer Sales

The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has formally requested the school's Board of Governors amend its policy to allow the sale of beer at "certain athletic events."

BoG Chair Carolyn Long announced that request as part of a press release from the University Relations office on Friday. Per that release, details of the policy proposed by athletic director Oliver Luck and his department will be available "sometime next week" to begin a 30-day comment period.

If Luck is to get his wish and WVU will begin selling beer at sporting events, it will require the BoG to strike or alter Section 4 of Policy 18, which reads "The selling of beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages to the general public during athletic events shall be prohibited."

That policy was made effective in 2003. But Luck said it makes WVU the exception when it comes to its peer institutions.

"Many college stadiums, including all of our counterparts in the Big East Conference, are selling beer in some capacity," Luck said in a statement released by WVU's sports communications office Friday.

The proposal is part of a three-pronged approach to alter certain policies and practices surrounding athletic events, particularly those at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Luck's statement also indicated the athletic department may end the practice of "re-entry" to the stadium, something that was accomplished in past years through to use of so-called "pass outs."

These items, more formally referred to as "re-entry checks" by the athletic department in the past, were distributed to fans who wished to leave the stadium but be permitted to return later.

The practice was used for all home games except for night kickoffs in recent years.

"The recommendation is to standardize the procedure and not permit re-entry at any time," Luck said in his statement. "Very few stadiums across the country, and none in the Big East, allow the practice of re-entry. We believe that this will help eliminate the abuse of alcohol in the parking lots at halftime and improve fan behavior."

A plan is also in place to extend the smoke-free areas of the stadium (which presently include the seating areas, aisles and restrooms) to the concourses, meaning smoking areas would have to be established outside of the concourses -- making the Milan Puskar Stadium facility itself completely smoke-free.

"Public safety is paramount to our game-day operation of the football stadium and other athletic venues," Luck said. "We have an obligation to provide a safe, friendly atmosphere for Mountaineer fans and our visiting supporters."

West Virginia assistant athletic director for communications Michael Fragale said that the re-entry procedure and the smoking areas at the stadium are matters of "practice, not policy" and as such, changes to them would not require the approval of the school's Board of Governors.

However, if beer sales are to be permitted inside Milan Puskar Stadium, the BoG would have to alter its policy.

The next scheduled Board of Governors meeting is set for June 3 in Charleston.

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