Now that the West Virginia athletic season is cooling down and the summer is heating up, it’s that odd time in the calendar for the Mountaineers called the offseason. After the roller coaster that was the 2018-2019 season, WVU athletic director Shane Lyons recapped the last year and looked forward to the future of Mountaineer athletics.
As West Virginia University is one of the biggest economic actors in the state of West Virginia, so is the school’s athletic programs. For this reason, the athletic department commissioned a study in 2017 to quantify the economic impact of Mountaineer sports on the community, county and state as a whole, about which you can find more here.
A key theme that Lyons emphasized was investment in all athletic programs. The university is in the midst of its “Master Plan,” which is a multi-million dollar investment in to facilities across the athletic department. Lyons says this is a priority because he sees the success that new facilities, such as the baseball team’s Monongalia County Ballpark, can help bring to a team.
“My job is to help the coaches,” Lyons said, “and how can I do that? Facilities.”
On the topic of Monongalia County Ballpark, the Mountaineer baseball program brought in more fans this season than ever before, smashing their own attendance records throughout the season. Under the leadership of Randy Mazey, the Mountaineers hosted their first NCAA Tournament game since 1955. At that contest, 4,355 fans were in attendance — a bit more than the 3,500 official capacity of Monongalia County Ballpark.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Lyons joked.
Due to the team’s success in 2019, Lyons did confirm that contract negotiations are ongoing with coach Randy Mazey, but there is currently no timeline for an extension.
As for other sports across the athletic department, Lyons expressed his excitement for the upcoming upgrades to the golf team’s new facility as well as the new aquatic center at Mylan Park.
One of the biggest upgrades is to the WVU Coliseum, home to WVU men’s and women’s basketball. With renovations already made to improve the fan experience at the Coliseum, the focus has now moved on to student-athletes. As detailed in the Master Plan, the Coliseum’s workout areas will receive an upgrade as will the training areas.
Last but not least, Lyons announced that new uniforms for several programs, including the men’s basketball team, will be unveiled after the summer.