"We're trying to give positive recognition to the state," Fulford said. "All this upsets me."
Again, understandable. For years many complained about outside companies using the state for profit. The oil and gas industry is the latest. Here, though, Fulford, a Wyoming County native, has achieved an in-state program of excellence. And he's being hassled.
Think Fulford needs this job? Think again. He was a pharmaceutical rep for nine years making six figures. So, comparatively, he's now making peanuts. Also, since jumping into the basketball game, he's turned down many major-college assistant coaching jobs. He could have one of those in an hour of speed dialing.
There are, though, some, like State Sen. Daniel Hall (D-Wyoming), that have realized if action isn't taken soon, Fulford, and the excellence that is his program, could be gone.
"We get great national and world exposure with possibly the greatest talent nationwide," Hall said. "If we don't help, they're going to pick up and move. We need to find a way to say 'yes' and keep excellence in our state."
Thus, the bill, which now moves to committee before any vote in the House of Delegates.
"It's a technicality, really," Hall said. "This is just so [Prep] can be recognized and play in these tournaments. I like Gary Ray and those guys at the SSAC, but I just totally disagree with their stance on this."
A call to Ray went unanswered on Thursday.
"Playing in the state tournament is not a goal," Fulford said. "[The SSAC stance] just ties our hands on what we could be doing nationally. We could be doing so much more."
Prep was asked to play Chicago power Whitney Young a couple years ago, but the Illinois state association requires its teams to play against schools recognized by their state's association. The game didn't happen.
"All we've asked is [Prep] be recognized on paper," Hall said. "They don't want to be in the [state tournament] or leagues."
The reason: West Virginia's public school teams couldn't compete with Prep. They simply couldn't.
West Virginia's premier prep school team, however, can compete with any out there nationwide.
It's time the Irish be given the chance - and a little help - to do just that.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.