G-Comm™: Say What? No More WVIAC?
Wow! What do you say when something disappears that has been an athletic tradition in our state since 1924?
That is what happened on Monday when Metronews Talkline broke the story that nine schools are leaving the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Who knew that the conference shifting and re-alignment that has made such major headlines at the Division I level, would also filter down to the WVIAC and the Division II level. .
So, at first glance, the sports community in our state is in shock today! One of our state’s longest standing traditions, the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is breaking up. At least it is on paper.
For many of the schools it is not so much a break-up as it is a name change. In reality the break-up may not be as severe as the headlines indicate. With the exception of Seton Hill in Greensburg, PA, most of the schools that are forming the new league are the schools that have been the backbone of the WVIAC since its inception. The league will have a new name, but many of the tradtional opponents and rivalries will stay the same.
There are similarities here with what has happened recently in the Big East. The level of play may be different but the principles remain the same. In the Big East, the financial goals and competitive goals of the football playing schools and the non-football private schools are different. Their approach is different. In athletics, Just as WVU and Pitt don’t have that much in common athletically with Seton Hall and Providence, Fairmont State and WV State really don’t have much in common with Davis & Elkins. The football schools and the non football schools have different agendas, goals and philosophies when it comes to athletics.
I love our state and our sports traditions. I grew up going to the WVIAC basketball touranment when the event was one of the prime events in our state. In the 1960’s and 70’s, a ticket at the old Charleston Civic Center was a tough ticket.
So I am saddened to see the WVIAC in jeopardy. In many ways, it is just another part of life in our state that used to be good and now is going away.
On the other hand, I am a realist. I realize that most people in the state don’t really care about WVIAC athletics. Not any more. Crowds at the games are small. Fans would rather watch the big boys play on TV than go to a Division II game. That won’t change with a new league.
In our state, if fans are going to an in-state college football game, they are packing up the tailgate supplies and hopping on the interstate and heading to Morgantown or Huntington, not Concord or Glenville.
Pardon me, however, while I have a touch of sadness about the demise of a league that has been a part of our state’s fabric and history since 1924.
~~ Frank Giardina ~~