By a 10-5 vote Friday, the West Virginia University Board of Governors agreed with the university's president and athletic director that beer sales should be allowed at Mountaineer football and basketball games beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
Athletic director Oliver Luck, in particular, argued that the controlled sale of beer at Millan Puskar Stadium could serve to quell tailgating excess and combat the increasing "coarseness" of WVU football crowds. His theory is backed by Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition, which provides alcohol management strategies and training to professional and college sports entities. "With today's change in policy, I believe we have taken a step forward toward our goal of a safer, friendlier and more civil game day experience," Luck said in a statement Friday. "We can now follow the path of many of our Big East colleagues and control the sale of beer in our stadium. We have much planning to do with our public safety officials and event staff, but we will be ready to implement our plan for the 2011 football season."
Under the policy, beer will be sold in plastic bottles (spillage was a common concern voiced during a public comment period), with no more than two bottles allowed per sale. Beer will only be sold at concessions stands, with none located near WVU student seating. Sales will be cut off in the third quarter. "I think it's clear Oliver has done his homework and has done a really good job saying what is the best way to do what we can do to change behavior," outgoing board chairwoman Carolyn Long told the Charleston Daily Mail. "Now we'll begin to work on that. There are bound to be disagreements, just as there was around the board, but I think it's important we had the discussion we had."
Among those in disagreement is Pittsburgh sports radio host Joe Starkey. "This idea is so bad, it's hard to know where to begin," wrote Starkey in Sunday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Let's start with the true motivation: tapping sudsy revenue streams. Beer sales at football games could contribute more than $1 million annually to the athletic department."
We'll know in a matter of months whether such revenue - as well as renewed fan civility - can be found in Morgantown.