News, Notes & Rumors – July 30
It’s been a busy summer for the medical staff of the Mountaineer men’s basketball team.
Brandon Knapper is dealing with a serious blood clot issue in his lung. Forced to take a medical redshirt last year after a preseason knee injury, this latest situation is a major concern, and also leaves Knapper’s status unclear. The South Charleston product is supposed to get an update from doctors in mid-August. Until then the 6-foot point guard is allowed workout but can’t participate in any drills that may involve contact because of the fear that the wrong hit could dislodge the clot. Until doctors determine what caused the clot and how to treat it, Knapper will be limited in what he can do.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins hopes his ability to do various life tasks improves after undergoing hip surgery last Friday. Huggins has had issues with both his hips over the years, thus the need for his stool on the sidelines because getting up from a deeper seating position in a regular chair was painful. He had replacement surgery for his right hip four years ago, and now he’s getting the left hip fixed. No one is saying the stool will go away after this latest surgery, but the hope is the 64-year-old Huggins will be able to perform many tasks with less pain.
Two other Mountaineer men’s basketball players also reportedly underwent surgery last week. The Charleston Gazette was the first with the story that both junior center Sagaba Konate and incoming juco transfer Andrew Gordon had knee surgery. It’s not believed that either surgery is severe, as supposedly each was done just to clean up some trouble spots and both should be back on the court soon. Konate complained of knee pain during the NCAA Tournament this past spring, but didn’t miss any action. Gordon underwent major knee surgery during 2017 that kept him out of all game action at Northwest Florida State College this past season. He took a redshirt and enters WVU as a third-year sophomore. This latest surgery is supposed to repair some of the issues left from Gordon’s previous medical procedure.
Out of all these medical worries, Knapper seems the only one that is truly a major concern.
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WVU director of athletics Shane Lyons is reportedly going to hold a press conference later this week to reveal plans for the Mountaineers’ next round of athletic renovations.
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West Virginia baseball pitcher Conner Dotson will not spend his senior season with the Mountaineers. The Flower Mound, Texas, native, who has been limited because of injury the past two seasons, announced via Twitter that he is going to transfer to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
Former WVU assistant coach Derek Matlock is beginning his second season as the head coach at UTRGV, having coaxed a 23-31 record from the Vaqueros in year one. Rio Grande Valley is a Division I program and a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
Dotson suffered a gruesome injury in 2017, breaking his arm while warming up for a game. He missed the rest of the season and took a medical redshirt. He tried to return this past spring, but was limited to five appearances out of the bullpen, as his pitching arm was still not 100 percent. Now with his bachelor degree in sports management from WVU in hand, he’ll look to revive his once promising career back in his home state.
Forever a Mountaineer pic.twitter.com/KYkjSm2qQW
— Conner Dotson (@TheDotty10) July 24, 2018
“It was truly a blessing to lace up my cleats and wear the Flying WV these last four years,” Dotson said via Twitter. “Morgantown, thank you for giving me friends for life and I will always be proud to say I graduated from WVU and that I am a Mountaineer for life.”
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A while back we reported that former WVU football video coordinator Dusty Rutledge was in line to become the head football coach at Parkway High School in Ohio. The board of education in Parkway, which is in northwest Ohio near the Indiana state line, finally made it official last week and confirmed the hiring of Rutledge, who is a Parkway grad.
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And finally, some recognition for an athlete with Mountaineer ties.
Natalie Cignetti, who is the daughter of former WVU quarterback Curt Cignetti (1979-82) and granddaughter of former West Virginia head football coach Frank Cignetti (1976-79), was recently named the 2017-18 Pete Nevins Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Natalie was an honorable mention Division II All-American volleyball player for Indiana University of Pennsylvania this past year. She also graduated from IUP with a 4.0 GPA as natural science major with a concentration on pre-med. She will begin medical school at Wake Forest this fall.
Natalie’s grandfather, prior to taking over as WVU’s head coach from Bobby Bowden after the 1975 season, also served as an assistant at West Virginia from 1970-75. After being replaced as the Mountaineers’ head coach by Don Nehlen following the 1979 season, Frank went on to incredible success as IUP’s head football coach, posting a 182-50-1 record from 1986-2005, including a Division II national championship in 1993. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Curt followed his father into football coaching and spent nearly 30 years as an assistant at Division I schools. He became the head coach at IUP in 2011 and stayed there until 2017 when he left to become the head coach at an FCS program, Elon. He led the Phoenix to an 8-4 record last fall, which included a spot in the FCS playoffs.
Curt’s younger brother and Natalie’s uncle, Frank Jr., also is a successful football coach and is currently the quarterback coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Natalie obviously inherited the family’s athletic ability, but she’s now taking a different fork in the road, heading to med school.