WVU should change football student section
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 20:02
With Oliver Luck more than nine months into his tenure as athletic director at West Virginia University, this would be a safe time to begin assessing some of the decisions he has made, all while recommending a few others.
Some have benefitted the Athletic Department along with the University greatly, such as the changes that have been made with coaches. The hirings of tennis coach Tina Samara, and, in particular, volleyball coach Jill Kramer have been successful.
In addition, more money has been routed into smaller sports for training, assistant coaches and scholarships.
Most importantly, the alterations made within the football program have set the bar high and have the potential of bringing in all-time high revenue figures.
Changes to the Coliseum's parking policy, on the other hand, have sent both student and faculty members into a frenzy as they scramble to find available spots on game days.
This is not to say this was a bad decision, but one that may have been made a bit hastily.
It is expected these are just a small sampling of changes Luck has in store for the Athletic Department as it begins to take a more modernized and businesslike approach.
With that being said, there is one major change Luck should consider as he nears the one-year mark at his post.
The student section at home football games should be reduced and moved elsewhere, while the Senior Spirit Section should be completely eliminated.
Take a deep breath and follow me on this one, even if that previous sentence upset you.
I am in the unique position in that I have been on both sides of the seating debate due to the fact I've watched games as not only a student, but also from the press box.
It is embarrassing to see empty seats on a Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, especially with a program that other schools envy.
The student section should be reduced to 10,000 from the approximately 11,000 that it currently holds. Once this change is made, the students should be moved to end zone seating at the end closest to the Puskar Center.
For those counting at home, those are sections 97 through 100 and 131 through 134.
This would move students closer to play and create a distinct home field advantage for the Mountaineers, as teams would need to drive directly into a raucous student section with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
With number of seats reduced and the therefore the demand for those seats higher, students would savor the opportunity to create issues for rivals, such as Pittsburgh, in late-game situations. It would make Milan Puskar Stadium an even tougher venue to play at.
An argument some would pose against this is that the visiting team's ticket allotment is usually placed next to this section and conflict could arise. But the fix is relatively simple for this.
WVU would need to move this group into an upper deck section in which the students sat previously. Most other teams in the country place visiting fans far away from the action, so why shouldn't WVU?
Another would be that season ticket holders in that area would be displaced into different seats.
This is the tougher of the two arguments, but no donation to the Mountaineer Athletic Club is needed to get these seats.
If a donation were required, moving these seat holders would be a very tough task.
Luck could easily exercise his power in this situation, and he would stand to lose very little, if any, in terms of financial backing from the fans in those sections.
Although the implementation of these changes will anger some in the short-term, it is the long-term well-being of the football program that should be considered.