Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

May 24, 2014

Furfari: Spiker, stipends, baseball bubble...

MORGANTOWN — Some odds and ends about sports which may interest you:

Zach Spiker of Morgantown has done reasonably well again well in his fifth year as head coach of men’s basketball at West Point.

Army finished 15-16 this past season overall and placed fifth in the 10-team Patriot League (10-8). In 2012-13, the Knights were 16-15, reached the conference semi-final in the league tournament and Spiker was named the Coach of the Year for the Patriot League.

Losing just one player, he’s obviously hoping that his team will be even better next year. All five starters are returning in 2014-15.

The last two-year total of 31 victories under Zach Spiker is the military institutions best in at least 29 years. …

***

In this connection, that young Army mentor’s father, John Spiker, remains a widely known athletic trainer and administrator at West Virginia University.

After serving five years as a trainer at old rival Pitt, Spiker returned to his alma mater in 1975. He joined the training staff of the late Hall of Fame and legend A.C. “Whitey” Gwynne.

Spiker, now 67, has been at WVU for 39 years. In addition to the stint at Pitt, he worked as the athletic trainer at North Carolina.

So, in all, John has been in his specialty for 45 years. He and wife Sabra, also a WVU graduate, have two other children. Son Tim is a businessman in Chicago. Daughter Heather resides in Frederick, Md., with husband John Throckmorton.

Spiker gave up WVU football duties after last fall. But he remains as medical and health coordinator with WVU doctors for athletes in the other 16 sports. …

***

We’re reading these days about present college athletes, as well as former sports participants, that they should be paid beyond full scholarship offerings.

Some observers tend to agree with them. Yet there are those who fear excessive stipends could possibly turn that from amateur status and border on professionalism.

Without seeing any particular proposals, I have no opinion in the matter.

That does bring back to mind, however, that those athletes I covered back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and even more recent received a small stipend.

I think that each player in the major sports received a mere $15 per month. That was supposed to be for laundry and dry cleaning. True Story. Any thoughts about that? …

***

The WVU baseball team appears to be on the NCAA tournament bubble after being beaten out of the Big 12 Conference tournament in a 9-4 loss to seventh-seeded Baylor (26-30) at Oklahoma City.

That left the slumping Mountaineer with a 28-26 record for the season. They have lost 9 of their last 10 games.

WVU, which gave up nine runs in two of its past three contests, got only six hits against the Bears and made two costly errors.

***

The NCAA will announce its 64-team field on Monday.

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