CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I saw the streamed press conference of West Virginia University President Jim Clements accepting the same position at Clemson, I felt a sense of loss for WVU and its supporters.
Clements is exactly what the land-grant institution needs. He's young. He's energetic. He loves his job. And, perhaps most notably, he balances academics and athletics in a very impressive fashion.
Usually, schools have presidents known for their support of one or the other, academics or athletics. Clements seemed to put all his energy into both.
Now, he is moving south, mainly for family reasons.
"Best wishes to President and Beth Clements," said WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins via Twitter. "Wanting to be closer to family I understand. It brought me home."
Also, Clements isn't bolting out the door. He's staying until Jan. 1. When I texted best wishes to him, he texted back that he'll "always love WVU."
Then he took time to speak about his tenure in Morgantown. My questions, naturally, were weighted toward the athletic side of his stay. Over and over, though, he beamed over the academic achievements.
"I'm very proud," he texted after the interview, "that we hired 100 new faculty members!" It was his second such follow-up text.
On the phone, I took Clements back to his early days at WVU. He was hired in March of 2009. That's when the Mountaineers felt pressure to jump from the sinking Big East. They landed in the Big 12.
"The conference realignment stuff was bubbling," Clements said of the time. "I'd barely been in office when I started getting calls. Now we're in a major conference.
"Before, playing Oklahoma would be a great bowl game. Playing Texas would be a great bowl game. Now we're playing schools like that every week, in addition to the research and academic partnerships we now have.
"I started looking into protecting the institution."
"Everyone knows WVU has a great athletic tradition," Clements said. "But I'm a data person. So I had our staff put together all the data on the program, where we stacked up in wins, graduation rates, etc.
"But that's only one piece of it. School presidents vote. And they're interested in the academic side as well. It's a package deal. So I wanted to present that side. We've had many Rhodes Scholars. We have terrific academics. We have an impressive hospital system. That's what they want to hear."
The mission was accomplished.
"I got the call from [interim Big 12 commissioner] Chuck Neinas," Clements said. "He said, 'I want to welcome you into the Big 12.' He said they were glad to have us.