WVU Celebrates Its First Day In The Big 12 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Celebrates Its First Day In The Big 12


West Virginia University celebrated its first day in the Big 12 with a cookout for its student-athletes, coaches and support staff.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Touchdown Terrace inside Milan Puskar Stadium for the event.

The cookout featured brief remarks from WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck and President James Clements. There was also an appearance by new Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

President Clements presented Commissioner Bowlsby with a WVU hat complete with a Big 12 logo on the back as well as a t-shirt.

"The move into the Big 12 is exhilarating for everybody involved. You're joining a really rich heritage and you're bringing your own rich heritage along," Bowlsby said. "This is a special place. I measure that more in one way than any other way, and that is, the very best people that ever came through here, want to come back here. I don't think there is a better testimony then the fact that Oliver Luck and Bob Huggins, and many others, have decided that this is where they want to spend their career when they have lots of other options."

President Clements was all smiles as he greeted some of the student-athletes and boosters throughout the evening.

"Today is a celebration. It is a big, big day for the institution," Clements said. "I'm thrilled that we have so many student-athletes here. That is ultimately what it comes down to. It is your hard work, your dedication and your commitment, not only to athletics, but academics and that commitment is really what brings us all together as Mountaineers."

Athletic Director Oliver Luck helped to navigate West Virginia University through its courtship of conferences as WVU looked to exit the Big East. This was a day Luck waited for since the marriage between WVU and the Big 12 was announced in October.

"Today is a great day and historic day, not just for West Virginia University, but also for our state," Luck said. "This is a day that means a lot to all the administrators, our coaches and our student-athletes as we embark on a big adventure, and we'll have a lot of fun doing it. I feel very comfortable as we raise the bar that we will be able to compete and compete very well."

The change in conferences means a little more to players from the Midwest who will now have the opportunity to play more games closer to their families. One of the players that fits that description is WVU Running Back Dustin Garrison.

"It's exciting," Garrison smiled. "I've been getting a lot of phone calls from friends and family back home, and being able to be able to play back home in Texas -- it means a lot and it's going to be great. Before I didn't get too many chances to go home, but now I'll be able to be there and play. It was kind of hard for my mom to come see games, but now with us going to the Big 12 she'll be able to see more games."

The Big East as a basketball conference was one of the best in the country year in and year out. With WVU now gone and Pitt and Syracuse set to depart the league in the near future, the Big East will not be what it was. The Big 12 could be just as challenging as the Big East was and the players are aware of that.

"I think the Big 12 is a very good conference and we should do really well in it," Guard Jabarie Hinds said. "The Big 12 is very physical and the atmosphere is very crazy. The crowds are rowdy and I know we'll need to be prepared for that. Playing in the Coliseum won't be easy for our opponents either because we have a large fan base, and we appreciate our crowds."

The Big 12 is a very good women's basketball conference as well. It features such talent as Baylor's 6-foot-8 All-American Brittney Griner.

"I think it will be an exciting, new experience and a good change," Guard Akilah Bethel said. "It is a very physical league, and we will be surrounded by big crowds a majority of the time. It will be something we will have to get used to on a day-in and day-out basis. I like big crowds; it makes it better when we win."

WVU had a video playing on the scoreboard inside the stadium as well as the Big 12 logo prominently displayed on both sides of the scoreboard. The new logo has been installed in the turf at Mountaineer Field and the Big 12 logo was also scrolling on the ribbon boards on both sides of the stadium.

The first day in the Big 12 is here. WVU will play its first football game as a member of the Big 12 on September 1 when it hosts Marshall.


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