Yesterday, while every other public college president in West Virginia was meeting with the Chancellor in Charleston to discuss education priorities and plan how we could best serve our State, the president of Marshall University, his coach and his athletic director held a press conference at the State Capitol during which he offered a proposal to play WVU in football in Huntington. Late in the afternoon, our athletic director indicated that we would not accept the proposal, a decision with which I concur. We have been unable in recent years to reach an agreement with Marshall about playing football. There has never been a disagreement on whether or not we should play a game between the two schools. In fact, as a new president, I authorized a series with Marshall for the first time in modern history.
WVU s decision to offer games in Morgantown has been driven by expectations of the league with which we are involved and what we perceive to be in the best interests of the academic and athletic programs at the University. To that end, Marshalls proposals have not been viable.
Last evening, while I was in the northern panhandle on University business, my office received a faxed letter from President Angel declining a standing offer I had made to him several weeks ago to play the game in Morgantown. He indicated that the only acceptable proposal to Marshall would include playing in Huntington. Therefore, I consider the matter closed and will have no further comment until circumstances warrant.
Our mission dictates that we focus on the quality of our teaching, on meaningful research, and ways to engage the state in solving critical problems, including economic development. In my opinion, public discourse involving higher education should not be dominated by discussions about football. This detracts from our efforts, as well as the efforts of all of our institutions to raise the quality of higher education throughout West Virginia.