Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 5, 2014

Preserving history: WVIAC gone but not forgotten

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — When the 89-year-old West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference folded last summer, there was a realization among local officials of the need to preserve the vast history of the league.

But the challenge appeared daunting — as with eight decades of fantastic memories also came thousands of documents, photographs, statistics, posters, articles, newspaper clippings, file folders, computer files and other memorabilia. But, fortunately, officials at Bluefield State College were undeterred by the challenge at hand, and executed an agreement ensuring that the memorabilia would remain intact and available for future use.

After months of hard work, the college was able to cut the ceremonial ribbon this past weekend at the upper floor of the Wendell G. Hardway Library, which has been renovated to hold the WVIAC’s archives.

“We have a tremendous amount of history here and a lot of fantastic memories,” BSC Athletics Director Terry Brown said at the ceremony. “That’s what this is all about.”

The WVIAC conference folded last summer after several institutions pulled out to create the new Mountain East Conference.

Although the WVIAC was no more, it was important for the rich history of the former conference to be preserved, according to BSC President Dr. Marsha Krotseng.

We agree. And it is quite a history. Among the many well-known names in area sports represented in the newly opened archives:

• Merrill Gainer, before his legendary coaching career at Big Creek and Bluefield, got his degree from Shepherd College (now University).

• Glynn Carlock Sr., mentor of generations of Graham G-Men, was a graduate of Concord College (now University).

• Cam Henderson, destined to become an innovative basketball coach at Marshall College (now University), was a student at Glenville State and coached an undefeated team in 1925 at Davis & Elkins College.

• Ron Ward, one of the top four scorers all-time in the league’s basketball history, was pictured in an action shot taken while a Concord student.

• Archie Talley, with more points than any other WVIAC basketball player, wore the uniform of Salem College (now Salem International University) in another photograph.

• Bill Stewart, former head football coach at West Virginia University, was shown in another photograph as a Fairmont State student.

Among the attendees on Saturday were very successful college coaches from our area, including Tony Colobro, Steve Cox and Kenny Mandeville.

The work is still not done for BSC. Thousands of statistics, news releases, biographies and images are still to be downloaded from the league’s website, which is scheduled to go offline this summer.

We applaud Bluefield State College, College Archivist Jim Leedy and all of those individuals responsible in helping to preserve the prolific history of the WVIAC. The league itself may be gone, but the many memories provided by its members and prominent players and coaches must be preserved for current and future generations.