By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
West Virginia’s first year in the Big 12 Conference will end with a bit of controversy.
An anonymous tip to The NewsPress late Tuesday night, followed by in-depth research, shows the Mountaineers baseball team has played 57 games — one more than the NCAA maximum of 56.
West Virginia posted a spring record of 31-25, the Mountaineers should only have played 55 games this spring after playing an exhibition game in the fall.
In a release on the official West Virginia athletics website on Oct. 21, 2012, the Mountaineers played a “15-inning exhibition against Potomac State ... in which the Mountaineers came away with an 18-4 victory, out-hitting the Catamounts 17-11” following an alumni game.
By NCAA rules, a baseball team must deduct an appropriate number of games from the 56 games allowed in the spring based on any exhibition games played in the fall practice period. Per that rule, West Virginia should have only played 55 games in the spring, but competed in the regular 56 — giving them 57 games played for the 2012-2013 school year.
An attempt for comment from the Big 12 Conference in regard to the matter was eventually replied to after hours and directed The NewsPress to West Virginia officials and the NCAA for comment. As for the status of the Mountaineers in the Big 12 Championship, which begins Thursday in Oklahoma City, the e-mail reply stated the status is not affected “unless the NCAA were to inform WVU is ineligible for post-season competition, and that has not occurred.”
An e-mail was sent to the NCAA for comment but had not been returned as of press time.
West Virginia’s compliance department responded to the inquiry and told the NewsPress that the university is aware of the violation and said it is not a major violation that is reported to the NCAA — that it is instead a violation that is processed through the conference office.
Keli Cunningham, associate athletic director for compliance at West Virginia, said that the violation will not prevent the Mountaineers from competing in either the Big 12 conference tournament or the NCAA postseason tournament. She said the oversight will not affect any player’s eligibility and the only repercussions will be a forfeiture of two games next year — meaning WVU will only be permitted to play 54 games instead of the NCAA maximum of 56.
West Virginia has been in Oklahoma City since facing Oklahoma State in the regular season finale last weekend at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium where the Cowboys won two of three. The Mountaineers open the conference tournament at Bricktown Ballpark against Kansas at 4 p.m. Thursday and will take on OSU at 4 p.m. Saturday.