WVU'S DARK SCANDAL NOT GOING AWAY - The Power Of Money

(05/02/2008)

Opinion and Comment by Bob Weaver

Money, millions of dollars, and politics hang like a dark, dank cloud over West Virginia University in the awarding of an illicit Master's degree to Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter.

While many supporters have risen to defend the university leadership and the school itself, confidence in the university appears to be sinking.

Charleston philanthropist John McGee has dropped a $2 million dollar donation to the school, telling the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, "Mr. Garrison (WVU president) should be removed from office. This idiot, if you'll pardon the expression, has done immense damage to the university."

Dozens of other supporters are likely to drop their financial support.

Rhodes scholar Peter Kalis, a Pittsburgh lawyer and "distinguished alumnus" of WVU, said this action has "ruined the reputation of the university from coast to coast."

WVU physics professor Boyd Edwards has demanded the resignation of president Garrison and others involved in the debacle, calling it "a scandal of the highest order."

Morgantown's Dominion Post has called for President Mike Garrison to resign, in addition to eight administrators who attended the meeting that the degree was belatedly awarded.

The resignation of provost Gerald Lang and business dean Stephen Sears are being called empty gestures, because both will resume teaching posts, Lang receiving $200,000 and all benefits and Sears drawing $145,000.

The Charleston Gazette says they cannot fathom why the WVU Foundation is footing the bill for the $22,000 investigation into the matter, money that is supposed to be used for scholarships, questioning if such money will be used for legal fees defending the principals involved.

Disturbing is the fact that Garrison has declined to release his telephone and e-mail conversations during the period when the matter was being decided.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette is in court trying to get the release using WV's freedom of information laws.

Gov. Manchin is now calling the situation a "witch hunt."

Members of the 18-member WVU Board of Governors, mostly appointed by Manchin, have issued complete support for Garrison.

The 114-member WVU Faculty Senate will be meet Monday for an emergency session to reach its conclusion.

The degree debacle feeds the Rich Rodriguez coaching mess, which is another "follow the money" problem.

While most WVU football fans have bashed Rodriquez for his disloyal and maybe illegal behavior, there appears to be an underside to his departure, not alone the overlay that coaches now receive millions of dollars in salary.

Few will stop to assess the power of sports money that now overrides institutions of learning like WVU.


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