Enrollment does not identify winner

David Dunkleberger, Contributing Writer

The West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was designed to keep small colleges and universities in the area away from competing unfairly against major universities.

Each school’s enrollment number was gathered and place on a table. Schools were then placed in order by percent of females on a second table. Then the teams were ordered by percent of males on a third table.

Over the years we really haven’t had a problem with larger schools in the conference dominating in several sports,” said Ben Brownlee, associate commissioner of internal affairs for the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Three sports were researched to ensure a broad view on each school’s athletic success compared with their number of enrolled students. These sports were men’s baseball, men’s basketball and women’s volleyball.

The three largest schools in the conference in terms of enrolled students are Fairmont State University, 4,362; Shepherd University, 4,080, and West Virginia State University, 3,145 students.

The three smallest schools in the conference in terms of enrolled students are Ohio Valley University, 443; Alderson-Broaddus College, 566; and Davis and Elkins College, 784 students.

Wheeling Jesuit University is the fourth smallest school in the conference. However, these numbers have not stopped Wheeling Jesuit University from dominating women’s volleyball for the past four seasons.

“Recruiting plays a major role for developing our team each and every year. Most of the girls on our team each year are recruited from high schools all over the area,” said Christy Benner head coach of Wheeling Jesuit University’s women’s volleyball team.

Last year, some large schools found success in their women’s volleyball team, while others had disappointing seasons.

Fairmont State University (conference’s largest school) finished second place in the conference with a 12-2 record, while Bluefield State College (seventh) finished dead last with a record of 0-14 in conference play.

Many different schools were ranked in the top and bottom of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s baseball category.

Seton Hill University (ninth) finished on top of the conference with a 26-3 record. Davis and Elkins College (thirteenth) finished last season third in their conference with a 20-12 record.

Bluefield State College (seventh) also finished last season with a disappointing baseball record. Bluefield’s team struggled to a last-place finish with a 7-18 record.

“I feel our athletics struggle because we do not do a whole lot of recruiting. Each team has open tryouts at the beginning of the season. We then select our team and go from there,” said Geoff Hunter head baseball coach of the Bluefield State Blues.

The third sport used during the research was men’s basketball. Larger schools finished at the top of the standings last season.

West Liberty University (sixth) finished in first place with a 22-0 record. West Virginia State University (third) finished in second place with a 16-6 record. University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (fourth) finished in third place with a 14-8 record.

“Our coach works hard to bring in good athletes every year to help our team rebuild each year,” said West Liberty senior Mike Lamberti.

Bluefield State College once again struggled to a 6-16 record, which left them tied with Seton Hill and one win above last place.

There is no clear evidence shown in the statistics of the three West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sports that show larger schools dominate over smaller schools.

The statistics show that some schools are better at certain sports than others no matter what the size of enrollment.

Recruiting done by team’s staff may be a major factor in developing successful records in athletics. These statistics show that you do not always have to have the most athletics to have success in a sport, you just need to have the best ones.