West Virginia hosts reception for Big 12 Conference officials
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 01:11
As he stepped up to the podium to speak during Tuesday's Big 12 Conference welcome reception, a relieved West Virginia University President James P. Clements held up the conference's admissions agreement for everyone in attendance to see.
"It's official," he said.
The reception kicked off with the pep band playing the University's fight song as Clements walked into the room accompanied by Athletic Director Oliver Luck and Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas.
It was Neinas who took to the podium first to speak to the numerous WVU officials, coaches and others invited to take part.
The commissioner said it was nice to be back in Morgantown and spoke about his relationship with former Athletic Director Dick Martin, the man who hired legendary WVU head football coach Don Nehlen.
"We certainly welcome West Virginia to the Big 12 family," Neinas said. "We think we have a great conference, and West Virginia makes it greater."
Neinas, who served as president of Neinas Sports Services, went on to talk about how well he felt West Virginia would be able to fit in with the rest of the conference's athletic programs.
But, he insisted West Virginia didn't just bring the Big 12 another good athletic program to brag about on the court.
"You take a look around, and it's really interesting that you have a flagship university with a tier-one research institution," he said. "We need to put more emphasis on education. The reason this country became great is because of education, and the land-grant system gave a lot of people a chance for an education that they otherwise wouldn't have had."
Clements said he believes the University has found its perfect fit as it heads into the future.
"The Big 12 is a great fit for us, it really is. It's a strong and vibrant conference," he said. "It values quality academics and quality athletics, as we do. The Big 12 has great momentum heading it into the future, and WVU is also a university on the move."
Clements also said WVU has received a lot of kindness in the last few days, and he read messages that have been sent from Big 12 fans to the school's Facebook and Twitter pages.
Luck followed Clements and repeated many of the sentiments he and Neinas said during their statements, believing the move to the Big 12 is going to be a great decision for West Virginia.
He also said excelling in the new league was going to be a difficult task for the University to handle – especially in athletics.
But Luck thinks the coaches and student-athletes West Virginia has will be more than willing to take on that tough task.
"We have an opportunity to join a tremendous conference with excellent institutions and outstanding athletic programs," he said. "This is an enormous challenge for us. I know that our coaches and our student-athletes will rise to the challenge.
"We expect greatness here at West Virginia University, and we will continue to do so as a proud member of the Big 12."