The Kinder Garden - 2/20/02

The hiring of a new basketball coach will stress an already overtaxed WVU athletic budget. What kind of creativity might be seen in the new coach's contract?

I expect, of course for a variety of constructive methods to be used in shaping the financials of the new basketball coach's deal. Should a veteran coach be hired, WVU's athletic department, on its own, probably won't be able to foot the entire bill.

Incentive agreements for attendance and achievement on the court will probably be a feature of any new deal. Those can be good investments on both sides. More wins result in more money for the athletic department, and for the coach and staff that brought them about.

Incentives likely won't be enough to cover the difference, however. I won't be surprised to see a group formed with donations going strictly to supplement the new coach's salary. The level of formality of such a group is still to be determined, but it's going to happen here, as it has already happened many other places.

Take a look at Memphis. Head coach John Calipari's total compensation is reportedly around the $1.2 million mark, but the athletic department is only on the hook for approximately $120,000 of that amount. The rest comes from private donors.

I'm not suggesting that WVU can approach that level of compensation. I'm merely saying that West Virginia has to investigate and develop other sources of revenue to supplement salaries and perform infrastructure improvements.

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While on the subject of coaching, columnist and television commentator Ralph Wiley made several disparaging remarks questioning the interest of Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins in the WVU head basketball coaching job. Wiley made the comments on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption", which typically features some excellent sportswriters, but suffers under the pomposity of Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser. I think Wiley's comments might have carried a bit more weight had he not referred to "The University of West Virginia" during his diatribe.

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And since I've been talking about money, here's a couple of other interesting developments and trends. Recently, WVU men's soccer coach Paul Marco departed Morgantown for the greener pastures of SUNY-Binghamton. How can that be? Simple.

SUNY-Binghamton fully funds its men's soccer scholarships. With additional scholarships on hand, Marco will be able to build a team more easily.

The same problem rears its head in other sports, such as rifle. Alaska-Fairbanks has been able to bypass WVU in the sport (with an ex-Mountaineer as head coach, no less) largely because of the monetary support the team receives, including those fully funded scholarships.

WVU is hamstrung in these, and other instances, and the inequity on the playing fields won't be reduced until the money is put in place to properly support the programs. The return of some tuition waivers to the Athletic Department would be a start. Hopefully, someone in the administration is listening.

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