Hints of an Offensive

WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong did his best impersonation of Robert E. Lee on Friday in his report to the WVU Board of Governors.

Just like the famed Confederate general, Pastilong went on the offensive despite facing long odds in terms of support.

"Money isn't always everything, but it is very, very important when it comes to winning in athletics," Pastilong said. "We need to invest to win."

The numbers bear Pastilong out. Only one Big East school spends less on its football prgram than WVU, while the Mountaineers are at the bottom of the men's basketball conference in terms of budget. With those numbers, it's something of a wonder that WVU has been competitive at all in recent years.

Pastilong has been on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism over the past year, with many of those stemming from the less than smooth men's basketball head coaching search and poor years in the two main sports at WVU.

With history as a guide, Pastilong might have been expected to retreat and retrench by offering platitudes and banal assessments. Why draw more attention to yourself? However, he did just the opposite.

Pastilong said what many WVU supporters have been saying for quite some time now - West Virginia University must invest in the athletic program if they are to be successful. Pastilong outlined steps that would be taken to raise additional money, and noted that for WVU to win, the salaries, facilities and recruiting will all need boosts.

We wholeheartedly agree. We also applaud Pastilong's taking this stance, which he knew would have to be unpopular with a budget conscious Board of Governors, not to mention President David Hardesty, who is facing anticipated budget cuts from the state over the couple of years.

So, where will the new money come from? Or will it come at all? Pastilong notes that the WVU Foundation will begin assisting the Mountaineer Athletic Club in some fund raising endeavors. the MAC is currently raising around $5 million per year, and the Athletic Director hopes to increas that figure by some $500,000 this year and by $1.5 million in the next few years.

While that should be an achievable goal, it's probably not enough, and it's the one place where Pastilong did not go quite far enough. WVU's current athletic budget is around $24 million dollars. The modest boost of $1.5 million over the next few seasons will probably barely keep place with inflation and costs of supporting exisiting programs. And it's not likely that much help will come from the University general fund in light of their money problems.

Thursday: We examine some different strategies to move WVU up the Big East budget ladder and support Pastilong's "Invest To Win" plan.

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