'Mountaineer Golf is Back'

When Sean Covich was in high school, his dad gave him a piece of advice.

A long-time club professional who played in several tour events and tried to make his way on the PGA Champions Tour, he steered his son away from making golf a career - telling him not to make the game he loved a job and risk it feeling like work more than something he enjoyed.

At that point, Covich decided he was going to do something else in sports. He tried going the path of sports communications and media relations when he was done playing college golf, but the game and the call to teach just wouldn't go away. So he gave coaching a try, starting out at Meridian Community College in Mississippi.

Eight years later, he earned his first Division I head coaching job, becoming the first West Virginia men's golf coach since the program was dropped 32 years ago.

"Golf just kind of pulled me back in. I never grew up saying I wanted to be a college golf coach, it just happened," he said. "Now that I look back on it, I was destined to be in golf. It's what I've been around my whole life."

While he took Meridian from an NJCAA Division II program up to one of the nation's elite NJCAA Division I golf programs, and helped turn Mississippi State around to a national contender that was ranked a program-best No. 27 in 2013, the challenges Covich will face at West Virginia are completely different. He will have nothing to build from. He can make WVU golf whatever he would like his program to be when it starts play in 2015.

"It's a special opportunity. I'm going to be learning as I go because there's nothing here yet," Covich said. "There's no golf balls, there's nothing. There's so much we have to do that I haven't even begun to wrap my head around it.

"What will our expectations be? What will we be in the first year? It's a lot different than being able to walk into a program where you can look in the locker room and say, here's these five guys, this is what they average, these are the guys coming in. You can get a feel of what it'll be then, I really have no idea what we'll look like. It's kind of going to be whatever we want it to be."

And the Mountaineers will have the tough task of starting the program back up in one of the nation's best golf conference. The Big 12 Conference is home to the likes of elite golf programs such as Oklahoma State and Texas, who have won 13 national championships between them and have had several all-Americans and successful PGA Tour golfers.

In order to compete with those schools, Covich will be searching across the country for top-shelf golf talent, as well as looking around at what is currently in school at WVU. He mentioned holding a walk-on tournament where students will have a chance to show they belong on the team. But his message when on the road recruiting will be simple.

"We get to create this from scratch, that's what's exciting to me," Covich said. "(I will tell kids) you can make history. You can come here and be a legend right off the bat. Other schools have produced multiple all-Americans, and you can be just another one of those all-Americans, or you can come here and be our Jerry West."

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