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In an effort to grow its fledgling men's golf team, the WVU athletic department is eyeing the purchase of White Day golf course in Fairmont to build a practice facility, according to Mountaineer athletic director Shane Lyons.
"We're in a lease-to-purchase agreement now, Lyons told the Gazette-Mail on Tuesday. "We'll now enter a fundraising situation to buy that piece of land. Ultimately, we'd like to build a practice course and facility out there.
The nine-hole course, built in the 1920s, sits about 15 miles south of Morgantown on Smithtown Road.
WVU's golf program just completed its third season of varsity competition.
"We're projecting the total cost to be $5 million, counting land and everything: the building, course design and all of that, Lyons said.
The golf team has practiced at Morgantown's Pines Country Club and hosted competition at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport.
"They would still do that, Lyons said. "The course at White Day won't be a course we'll use competitively. It would just be a practice range.
Lyons said the project would be part of a larger fundraising effort.
"It's part of our master plan, Lyons said. "When I roll it out in mid-July, this [golf course project] will be part of that.
Mountaineer coach Sean Covich recently said finishing ninth among the 10 teams in the Big 12 tournament was "a positive step. "I think Sean [Covich] has done a tremendous job, Lyons said. "We finished ninth this year, moving up one spot. For only having the program in place for a couple years, and playing in the league we're in with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas & Sean is doing a great job.
Texas was in the NCAA championship finals in 2016, while Oklahoma won the national title in 2017 and OSU won it this year.
"The practice facility will make a huge difference, Lyons said. "If we can get that built, to be able to recruit and compete at a high level, it will help. We have to continue to grow the program.
Next season, The Greenbrier will host the Big 12 championship.
On Tuesday, Lyons toured the football expansion work being done in the training room at Milan Puskar Stadium. Plans were to expand to over 8,600 square feet. Also, the rehab/taping station area was to be expanded. In addition, the therapy pool was to be renovated and a new hydrotherapy room added as well as office space for trainers and doctors."Just seeing where they are on construction, said the athletic director of his tour. "It's coming along really well. The training room should be done by the end of the month. Then the training tables we're looking at [being done in] the middle of July.
WVU and Monongalia County have been working on a new aquatic and track and field complex at Mylan Park in Morgantown."I was up there the other day, Lyons said. "Track is supposed to be done in September of this year. And the aquatic center is a year behind. So September of 2019.
Lyons was asked about the proposed changes to the NCAA's transfer rules expected to be forwarded to the organization's Board of Directors on Tuesday. In sum, student-athletes would be able to "notify schools of plans to transfer rather than seek "permission. "We've talked about it a lot in the Big 12, Lyons said. "We feel this is probably a step in the right direction for the student-athlete. We'll see how it plays out.
Restrictions would still apply. For the undergraduates in five sports football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and hockey transfers are still required to sit out a year in residence, unless a waiver is granted.
"We feel very strongly student-athletes should have that year in residence when they do transfer by sitting out the year, unless they meet the exceptions, Lyons said. "I think that will be looked at next though.
Lyons said he not only likes the idea of transfers sitting out, but wonders if that shouldn't be expanded.
"I think what we have now is working, Lyons said. "But even in the Olympic sports we're spending a lot of time and energy in recruiting and bringing young people to campus. Just to have them turn around and leave and be eligible immediately somewhere else calls into question if we're doing the right things athletically as well as academically.
"These are things we'll have to look at& I'm just glad to see the NCAA at least chipping at it. We've had a tendency to take a holistic approach and package everything together. We didn't do that on this piece of legislation. We just took one piece: the notification portion. Now we'll have further discussions.
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