THE NEW VIEW
WVU senior associate athletic director Matt Wells has been dodging tornados and thunderstorms while in Oklahoma City for the Big 12 baseball tournament.
There’s nothing but sunshine around him, though, on this Tuesday in regard to the Mountaineer baseball and football programs.
On Tuesday morning, WVU coach Randy Mazey was named the league’s Coach of the Year and right-handed pitcher Alek “AK-47” Manoah was honored as the Pitcher of the Year.
Yet the warmth for Wells extends beyond that.
First, the Mountaineers, now No. 15 in Ratings Percentage Indexes, are hoping to host an NCAA regional at 34-18. They’ve certainly put in a bid.
“I’d say we’re one of four or five schools fighting for the last spot or two,” Wells said. “Last week a projection had us not hosting. Two or three weeks ago [a projection] had us hosting. We’re in that 15 to 18, 19 range trying to get to 16.
“What happens this week in the Big 12 tournament and other tournaments will have an impact. If you look at the RPI, we’re 15. If we get hot here and make a run, I think, that will help.”
Landing a regional would be more about prestige than making money.
“It’s not as much about generating revenue as it is gaining exposure for our program,” Wells said. “Being one of the top 15 teams in the country and hosting a regional would impact all aspects of the program – recruiting, ticket sales and general perception.”
The latter two aspects have certainly been elevated. In fact, Mountaineer baseball ticket sales are on a noticeable uptick.
WVU had the second-highest per-game average attendance (1,661) and third-highest total attendance (36,538) numbers in program history. The Mountaineers broke the single-game attendance record twice – first against Pitt in a midweek game (3,487) and then against Texas Tech on a Saturday (3,494). That was within a 10-day span. The latter came after WVU’s football spring game. (A third game would have been a Top 10 crowd had it not been for those two games expanding the list.)
Understand that still doesn’t cover the expense of the sport, but every little bit helps.
“Expenses [for baseball] far outweigh revenue,” Wells said. “But we’ve increased revenue. We’ve done that because of our move to the Big 12, the success we’ve seen through Coach Mazey as well as the move to our new ballpark.”
Rarely are sports not named football and men’s basketball money-makers.
“You see some unique situations like UConn women’s basketball or the baseball programs at LSU or Mississippi State,” Wells said. “You might find some others, but, for the most part, across the board, it’s football and basketball – with football being the lion’s share.”
And while on the subject, Wells smiles about the ongoing Mountaineer football season ticket sales effort – with good reason. For the first time in five years, the season ticket sales number is up from the previous May.
“We are up from last season, which is a positive,” Wells said. “You can draw a direct correlation to the coaching transition. There’s an excitement around Coach [Neal] Brown and his staff. We are up from last year at this time.
“To this date, we’ve sold a little more than 21,000 season tickets,” Wells said. “Last year at this time we were about at 20,200. We’re up roughly five percent. I think we all feel good.”
About many aspects of Mountaineer athletics.
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