PARKERSBURG -What does it take to run a highly-successful college athletics program?
The obvious answers are great leadership, great coaches, great athletes and great facilities.
But there's one other factor that trumps them all. It takes money.
Lots and lots and lots of money.
At West Virginia University, that money is raised by the Mountaineer Athletic Club.
On Monday, J Locklier, the senior director of athletic development for the MAC, spoke to members of the Parkersburg Rotary Club about the role the group plays in the success of WVU sports.
Locklier, who played college basketball at Miami of Ohio and Washington State and spent some time with the Boston Celtics before launching a successful playing career in Eurpoe and South America, said the past 2 1/2 years he has spent at WVU have been "the best years of my life.''
Locklier, like every other person who loves West Virginia University, is enjoying what he calls "The golden age'' for Mountaineer sports with virtually every WVU program nationally ranked.
The athletes who make up WVU's sports teams annually represent $6 million in scholarships. Scholarships that the university expects to be funded. That's where the Mountaineer Athletic Club comes in.
"We are the primary fundraisers of money to provide funds to keep student-athletes on scholarship,'' Locklier explained. "We're paying the scholarship bill.''
But that is not the MAC's only function.
It also is the support staff for every program whether that means maintaining or expanding facilities or helping coaches recruit.
The MAC's biggest and most visible existing project is a basketball practice facility that will headquarter the men's and women's basketball programs.
"It will be the best in the country,'' said Locklier of the facility. "There is a difference between something you want and something you need. We need this facility.''
He explained that the Coliseum serves as a classroom from 8 a.m. until mid-afternoon. The new practice facility will provide the men's and women's teams with 1 courts each with 24-hour access. It also will house the offices, the locker room and a new weight room. Also, like the football headquarters next to Mountaineer Field, it will include a Hall of Traditions focusing on basketball.
Locklier touched on numerous issues during his brief presentation. Highlights include:
Expansion of the football stadium: Fans and donors are being surveyed on their thoughts about new premium seating options. Locklier also said to look for concourse renovations and upgrade of concession facilities and restrooms, although he stressed there is no official timetable.
The hiring or a new athletics director: With AD Ed Pastilong retiring on June 30, WVU is embarking on a search for his replacement Given the success of West Virginia's programs, Locklier believes the school will be a major attraction to many qualified candidates who can take West Virginia to an even higher level.
"We haven't reached the ceiling yet,'' he said.
The possible demise of the Big East: Locklier says the current talk of conference expansions is money-driven. That conferences are going to look to increase their revenues and the way to do that is to more teams that allow for bigger TV and football bowl contracts.
Although he doesn't know what is going to happen, he says once the first move is made, there will be a domino effect felt throughout the country.
He did say that most conferences have realized the benefit of conducting a championship football game and that even the staid Big Ten and Pacific 10 are leaning that way.