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WVC sticking together for at least another year

It appears the West Virginia Conference is safe for now.

"For the coming year the WVIAC will operate as normal,'' said longtime commissioner Barry Blizzard in an e-mail Friday evening.

"During the year, future options will be studied. As of now the WVIAC is still in business and will be until something else changes. It may look a little different in the future.''

Conversations continued Thursday about reshaping the league with all 15 schools represented in person or by phone in a special meeting to elect board members during the athletic directors' retreat at UC. However, not all presidents participated.

"There was no definite action taken with issues on realignment,'' said University of Charleston President Dr. Ed Welch. "The conversations that occurred in executive session were polite and sincere and candid. They were straightforward about representing the different interests of different schools.''

The WVC began exploring its options in June when the nine football-playing members, including UC and West Virginia State, agreed to take a look at forming a new conference and hoped to add three more schools.

Then earlier this month nine schools met in Princeton, but the only football-playing members that attended were UC, State and West Virginia Wesleyan. Those nine reaffirmed their commitment to rebuild the WVC in a way that makes sure it meets the needs of its members and continue the unity of the conference.

"There are a wide variety of interests,'' Welch said. "There are some who want to be in a 12-team football conference and there's some that want to keep the conference intact the way it is.

"Each president is trying to decide what is in the best interest of his or her school and the student-athletes. Those interests differ because the institutions differ.''

In addition Thursday, Welch was voted in as chairman of the WVC's board of director for a two-year term.

"We have the opportunity to kind of guide the conference through whatever kind of realignment will occur,'' he said.

"I think I have sympathy for a variety of positions and interests that the presidents and schools have. Since I'm in the middle in some ways myself in being interested in the continuation of the WVIAC and at the same time looking for a situation for us to play football.''

Welch said talks will continue about the direction of the WVC, which was founded in 1924. The league also sponsors the longest continuously held basketball tournament in the country, which has been held in Charleston since 1960.

"I think they'll be ongoing meetings with different groups,'' he said. "I would be surprised if it was the same conference two or three years from now because of all those different interests.''

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.


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