WVU News, Notes & Rumors – July 9
The performances by the athletic teams from West Virginia University for 2017-18 had some highs and lows, but viewed as a whole, they placed the Mountaineers about where they normally do.
The Learfield Directors’ Cup released its final standings last week, putting a numerical value to the placement of every sport sponsored by each university throughout the 2017-18 athletic year. Stanford finished in first place with 1,442 points, to edge out UCLA, which had 1,326. Florida (1,216), USC (1,147) and Texas (1,143.25) made up the rest of the top five.
West Virginia placed 63rd in the Learfield rating system with 380.75 total points. WVU was ninth out of the 10 Big 12 teams, as only Kansas State, which was 72nd with 315 points, finished behind the Mountaineers. Also in the Big 12, besides fifth-place Texas was Oklahoma (25th, 785.75 points), Oklahoma State (32nd, 683.75), Texas Tech (41st, 577), Baylor (43rd, 555.75), Iowa State (56th, 436), Kansas (57th, 412.50) and TCU (58th, 394).
WVU, which sponsors 17 varsity sports, is at a disadvantage in the Learfield Cup, which takes into account a school’s top 19 sports. The lowest scores in any other varsity sports programs sponsored by a school are thrown out. But since the Mountaineers don’t even sponsor the maximum, they are going to automatically have a couple zeros.
West Virginia was best in the winter sports, where the No. 9 men’s basketball team and the No. 2 rifle team gave it significant points. Only 26 Division I programs scored more than WVU’s winter total of 284 points, which also received scoring help from wrestling (30th place), men’s swimming (30th), women’s swimming (44th) and women’s gymnastics (31st). A team must finish in the top 64 nationally to receive any Learfield points.
But the Mountaineers’ relatively strong winter session was displaced by a marginal fall (tied for 79th with 89 points) and an extremely weak spring (173rd with 7.75 points). Football (51st) and women’s soccer (ninth) were the only fall sports to score Learfield points, while women’s track & field (63rd) was the only WVU sport in the spring to garner points.
West Virginia’s 63rd-place finish in the final 2017-18 Learfield Cup standings is about on par with where the school has finished past six years. While it did finish 44th last year, it was 60th in 2015-16, 62nd in 2014-15, 69th in 2013-14 and 68th in 2012-13. Those six years coincide with WVU’s time in the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia’s Learfield placement was actually better in the Mountaineers’ Big East days, as they were the big fish in the small pond during that time. It was 45th in 2011-12, 40th in 2010-11, 37th in 2009-10 and 50th in 2008-09. Moving into the Big 12, where sports like wrestling, gymnastics, track, tennis, volleyball are all much more competitive and have pushed West Virginia down the food chain a bit, have taken their toll on WVU’s ability to earn as many Learfield points in the past half dozen years.
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The NBA summer league is getting more attention around the state of West Virginia than ever before.
A large part of that is due to the fact that three former Mountaineers are participating. Jevon Carter, who was the second round draft pick by Memphis, is playing with the Grizzlies’ summer league entrant, which has games in Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. In addition, Daxter Miles and Devin Williams, each of whom are free agent signees, are both members of the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team.
A number of others with Mountain State ties are also participating in the NBA summer league, which runs until July 17.
Former Fairmont State post player Thomas Wimbush is currently on the Los Angeles Clippers’ roster, and his one-time Falcon teammate Jamel Morris is with the Detroit Pistons. Haywood Highsmith, who was the MEC player of the year this past season while at Wheeling Jesuit, is on the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster. In addition, Marshall’s Ajdin Penava is with the Washington Wizards and Pierra Henry, a graduate of South Charleston High School who played collegiately at Charlotte, is with the Boston Celtics.
The summer league rosters frequently change, especially for the undrafted players, so those playing for a team one day may be out the next.
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Speaking of the Mountain East Conference, that league is in the process of replacing two of its 12 members. Shepherd and UVA-Wise have each given notice that they will be departing the MEC after the 2018-19 athletic year.
The MEC recently announced that it is inviting Frostburg State (Md.) College into the league, contingent on that western Maryland program making the move up from the Division III level to Division II.
That leaves the MEC with one more addition if it wishes to get back to a 12-team conference, and all indications are that it wants to return to that number. Geography will be an important factor in choosing a new member. That will keep travel costs down in a league, like all at the D-II level, that has to keep a close eye on the financial bottom line. With that said, it appears that Alderson Broaddus is the strongest option available. With a football program already in place, the Battlers, who currently participate in Great Midwest Athletic Conference, would seem to fill most of the MEC’s needs when it comes to a new member.
Such a public invitation by the MEC may not be coming in the next couple of weeks, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if A-B isn’t asked to join the league at some point in the not-too-distant future.
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WVU had four members of its 2018 baseball team drafted by MLB squads in June, and all four have now signed professional contracts.
Michael Grove, a pitcher from Wheeling, was a second round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he inked a deal for a reported $1.229 million last week.
Infielder Kyle Gray (14th round to the New York Yankees), shortstop Jimmy Galusky (20th round to the Chicago White Sox) and pitcher B.J. Myers (35th round to the Tampa Bay Rays) each had previously signed with their respective MLB franchise. Grove, Gray and Galusky all were underclassmen who had college eligibility remaining, but chose to start their pro careers.
Gray is currently a member of the State Island Yankees, where he is hitting .114. Galusky is playing for the Great Falls (Mont.) Voyagers and is batting .273. Myers has a 1.00 ERA in six games as a relief pitcher for the Hudson Valley Renegades.