Following the news of WVU's invitation and acceptance to join the Big 12 conference, the coaches that make up its athletic department gave their thoughts on the move and the future of their programs. Below are statements from 12 Mountaineers coaches.
Football Coach Dana Holgorsen
"This is a tremendous opportunity for WVU athletics, our fans and the state of West Virginia. Having coached in the Big 12 before, I appreciate the excitement, passion and expectations associated with the Conference, and I have no doubt that WVU athletics will be a great addition to the Big 12."
Men's Basketball Coach Bob Huggins
"Obviously having spent a year in the Big 12, we are familiar with the schools and the venues that they play in. We are excited to compete against the outstanding teams that the Big 12 Conference fields annually."
Women's Basketball Coach Mike Carey
"For West Virginia to continue to be a major player on the national scene, this is a great move for us. I have researched the Big 12 and what they've done over the years and they are a very competitive conference on the women's side. They are national contenders year in and year out."
Men's Soccer Coach Marlon LeBlanc
"As far as the move to the Big 12 and its impact on men's soccer, that is something that we're looking towards what the best avenue for our program will be. Regardless, Oliver Luck has assured me that the University is committed to maintaining men's soccer at the very highest level. It remains a top-level program to our athletic department and University. With that being said, our administration is already working towards solidifying our best options moving forward. We have put in a lot of effort growing this program in to one of the nation's finest on the field and in the classroom. My athletic director has made it quite clear that West Virginia University is both committed to me and the continued growth of men's soccer."
Gymnastics Coach Jason Butts
"The WVU gymnastics team is very excited to join the Big 12 Conference and now say we belong to the same conference as the majority of the other WVU teams. We look forward to also saying one day that we, too, are competing for a Big 12 Championship.
We're thrilled to join Oklahoma and Iowa State in the Big 12. They are both very successful programs. I have a lot of respect for coaches K.J. Kindler (Oklahoma) and Jay Ronayne (Iowa State). Both of those teams give us something to aspire toward as we work to put WVU gymnastics on the national stage.
We're appreciative of President James Clements and Director of Athletics Oliver Luck's hard work and determination in guiding WVU into the Big 12. I think the future is bright for Mountaineer athletics and West Virginia University."
Rowing Coach Jimmy King
"It is an exciting time not only for our institution, but certainly for our rowing program as well. Big 12 rowing hosts a fully-supported conference championship in the spring of 2012 and we look forward to contributing to the growth of rowing within."
Tennis Coach Tina Samara
"I am really excited about the move to the Big 12, and I was hoping it would happen. I coached in the conference for two years while I was at Colorado. They are pretty strong at the top with Baylor and Texas. This move will help with recruiting, and we will move back to having a conference schedule with tennis. This is really the best of both worlds because it will allow us to schedule a strong non-conference schedule too."
Wrestling Coach Craig Turnbull
"I would like to congratulate President James Clements and Director of Athletics Oliver Luck for getting us into the Big 12. This is very critical to the success of all of our sports. From a wrestling perspective, this is a tremendous advantage for us. Three of the best teams in the country – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, will now be in our gym every other year. We can talk to recruits about the top-tier competition they will be competing against. We will have the chance to showcase some of the best wrestling in the country. It will allow us to keep some of the best wrestlers in the country around home. Since this will not be a 10- or 12-team league in the Midwest, we will still be able to keep our regional affiliations and rivalries. This is a tremendous opportunity not only for West Virginia, but also for our wrestling program."
Cross Country and Track Coach Sean Cleary
"The Big 12 Conference is a wonderful home for West Virginia University. This is a great opportunity for all of our sports, fans and alumni. The Big 12 will provide an even greater stimulus to compete at a higher level."
Volleyball Coach Jill Kramer
"We are excited about the move to the Big 12 Conference and it is a great move for our volleyball program. The level of play is high across the board and it will be great to play a Top 100 team in every competition once we get into BIG 12 play. The programs that we will be competing against are top notch programs and you have got to play the best to be your best. I grew up in Texas, I played at TCU and I started my coaching career in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I look forward to using the ties I have in Texas to expand our recruiting territory even more. We played in Texas this year and we had a great welcome from WVU alumni at every match. When we travel to Texas to play in the future, we look forward to having the alumni there again for support. We are also looking forward to getting West Virginia University volleyball to where it needs to be in order to compete for a BIG 12 championship."
Swimming and Diving Coach Vic Riggs
"WVU swimming and diving is excited to make this move to the Big 12 Conference. The level of competition for swimming and diving in the Big 12 is among the best in the country. Being able to join a conference that historically produces some of the best swimmers and divers in the NCAA will not only help our program grow and improve, but also provide our athletes the best opportunity to reach our goal as a program of consistently competing at the NCAA Championships."
Baseball Coach Greg Van Zant
"We are extremely excited to be joining the Big 12 Conference and are looking forward to competing in possibly the top conference in college baseball. Also, we are very fortunate to have people of the quality of President Clements and Oliver Luck providing outstanding leadership for us in this turbulent time in intercollegiate athletics. This is truly a great day for WVU and our baseball program."