By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer
Men’s golf is returning as a varsity sport at West Virginia University and will resume competition during the 2015-2016 season, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said Monday.
It will be the first time in 33 years that men’s golf is a varsity sport at WVU. It was a varsity sport from 1933 to 1982.
A full-time men’s golf coach will be hired by March 31, 2014.
“Golf had a strong tradition on this campus, and its statewide popularity makes it a perfect addition to our department. A lot of thought, time and effort went into this decision as far as cost, travel and infrastructure goes, and I believe the strong tradition and history of Big 12 golf will only enhance our chances of building a championship program,” Luck said in a news release.
The Big 12 Conference requires members to have a minimum of six men’s and six women’s sports. With the return of men’s golf, WVU will have six men’s sports and 10 women’s sports sponsored by the Big 12.
“We are excited about reintroducing men’s golf to West Virginia University,” Terri Howes, associate athletic director for sports administration. “We researched a lot of options, and golf kept coming to the top of the list. Bringing the sport back continues to put us in great shape with our Title IX requirements. By phasing the sport in during the next couple of years, we believe we can have a solid foundation in place when we begin competition in 2015.”
Luck said that the university is discussing locations for competition and practice with golf courses around the state.
A varsity golf program at WVU will give the state’s top junior golfers an opportunity to stay in West Virginia and compete at the Division I level, said Ken Tackett, executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association.