MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia officials have apparently struck the first shot toward adding golf as a varsity sport.
The school's University Planning Committee has forwarded a recommendation to school president James Clements that the sport be added, according to a source. If Clements approves, it would become WVU's 18th varsity sport.
University spokesperson Becky Lofstead could not immediately confirm the news and WVU assistant athletic director for communications Mike Fragale said only that golf is still being considered.
"It has a modest cost associated with it and private fund-raising projections are very promising,'' Fragale said. "However, a final decision is pending and we will make a public announcement at the appropriate time.''
The school is required to add one men's sport to satisfy Big 12 Conference minimums. The league, which added WVU as a member last year, has not pushed hard on the issue, instead giving the school time to study its options and establish a program after a decision is made as to what sport to add.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck has recently said that his department considered adding golf, tennis or track and field. Because golf seems to be the least expensive option, that's the direction the school took.
If Clements approves the addition, a coach would likely be hired in the near future in order to begin recruiting and establishing a schedule and the program itself. It would likely begin competition during the 2014-15 school year.
West Virginia has had a golf team in the past, as well as men's tennis and track and field. All have been dropped, in part because of budget concerns but also to satisfy Title IX regulations regarding equity in athletic opportunities between men's and women's teams.
"We basically looked at the sports we'd dropped [in recent years] as the candidates to add and we're leaning toward men's golf,'' Luck told the Gazette last month. "We looked at track and field and we looked at tennis, but golf just seemed to be the most natural fit.''
West Virginia currently fields varsity teams in 17 sports. The six men's sports are baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming and wrestling. The 10 women's sports are basketball, cross country, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and volleyball. The coed rifle team won the national championship this winter.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.