One BIG Reason Why Scholastics Needs Athletics

Jul 24, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers cheerleader and mascot pose during Big 12 Media Day at the Westin Galleria. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

I hate getting solicitation phone calls. I’ve put my numbers on the "DO NOT CALL REGISTRY," but that really hasn’t stop the calls. With caller ID, it is now simple for me to pick up and then hang up on callers or ignore calls altogether.

The other night I looked at the caller ID and it said "West Virginia University." I picked up the phone and was greeted by the friendly voice of a young co-ed from the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at WVU. She said hi and that she appreciated my past contributions to the school and wondered if I would help out with a small donation again. Of course, I said yes. It was nice to hear a voice from Morgantown, and I really do appreciate what WVU did for me academically.

But I started to think why I so gleefully picked up the phone and why I was willing to carry on a five-minute conversation with this particular telemarketer. It was because she was calling from WVU. And I eat, drink and sleep Mountaineer Athletics. I have a WVU golf bag. The "Skin It" on my laptop is blue and gold with a flying WV logo. I’ve started three organizations over the course of my professional life and all three logos used old gold and blue colors. I’m a fan.

If I were going to be perfectly honest, my education in the Journalism school did very little to prepare me for life as a broadcaster and journalist. I know I was proud the day I graduated and my memories from college are great. But what keeps me glued to WVU is West Virginia Athletics. I wouldn’t be buying blue and gold golf tees nor writing for a blog site if WVU had a great engineering school (they do) but no sports program. In fact, I’d not think about WVU much at all if it weren’t for sports. I probably wouldn't pick up the phone if they called.

I am a college professor at a small school (I will say this: WVU taught me to not write that previous sentence, "I am a small college professor."). The debate amongst the faculty is a familiar one in academia, revolving around the importance of athletic programs. While there might not be a direct pipeline of money from the Athletic Department to other university programs, there are ancillary benefits to making WVU sports such a big deal. Chief among them this week is that I picked up a call from a WVU student telephone solicitor. I actually made small talk with her about how she felt about this year’s football team. She had good answers (very astute).

And the WVU J-school got a check from Mountaineer Chuck.

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