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For anyone that doesn't think facilities and resources aren't a big deal to college athletic programs below the NCAA Division I level, they aren't paying attention to the Kanawha Valley.
They should head over to the University of Charleston at 10:30 Saturday morning to watch the ribbon cutting for the Wehrle Innovation Center. It's a building that will be many things for UC's campus, but among them, it will be the new headquarters for Golden Eagles athletics.
The men's and women's basketball teams will play there, as will the men's and women's volleyball teams. The athletic department's offices finally will all sit under the same roof.
They also can head over to Institute and the campus of West Virginia State University. There, they can walk through the Walker Convocation Center, the home of the Yellow Jackets basketball and volleyball teams. They can walk down to the football field and see the Monroe Athletic Complex. The Walker Center opened in 2014, the Monroe Complex in 2015.
All are bright, shining examples of the two universities' devotion to improving the resources in their athletic departments.
Make no mistake, the arms race in college athletics absolutely trickles down to the Division II level and lower. UC and State's coaches travel the country, both in and out of season. They see what other programs at the their level have.
UC football coach Pat Kirkland has seen Division II facilities with indoor practice fields and weight rooms the size of gymnasiums.
"You'd be amazed at what I saw, he said earlier this year.
Division II programs are just as focused on attracting the best talent from around the country as their larger counterparts. UC's football roster includes players from Florida, New York and Nevada. WVSU's football roster includes players from Georgia, Illinois and California.
Marshall football coach Doc Holliday, known for decades as a premier recruiter, has a saying he often uses when talking about wooing prospects - "Kids buy with their eyes. They want to see things that are new, exciting and innovative. And, for the most part, so do their families.
They may want to see those things for different reasons. The kids don't want to be stuck in the same-old. They want shiny and new. Parents and families? They want to see commitment. It's one thing for a coach to say he or she wants the best for their son or daughter. It's another thing to show it.
Kids and parents both get that when they hit UC or West Virginia State's campuses. They see a commitment to improving, a commitment to staying relevant.
Now, they likely won't visit a Division II school and see a barber shop, like Oregon has in its football facility. They probably won't see an indoor waterfall like in Ohio State's facilities. But they will see updated locker rooms and offices and new equipment that show both kids and parents that athletics on these campuses aren't viewed as afterthoughts.
The spotlight might not be as bright on Division II athletics as it is their major Division I counterparts, but that doesn't mean those D-II athletes shouldn't get their chance to shine.
Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.
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