MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Like a pin obscured by a dogleg, Sean Covich isn’t sure what he’ll see when West Virginia relaunches its golf team in the fall of 2015.

He promises only to stick with the same approach that brought him success as a junior college coach and a Mississippi State assistant.

Amid his introduction Tuesday morning as WVU men’s golf coach, Covich embraced the opportunity to rebuild a program dormant since 1982 and to make it instantly competitive.

“I’ve coached eight years, and I’ve been in the postseason eight years either with an individual or a team, so I want to keep that going. I want to win right away,” he said. “Now is that going to be realistic? I don’t know, but I want to try.

“We may pop out and be 100th in the country or we may be 50th. I have no idea.”

It was nearly 11 months ago that athletics director Oliver Luck announced plans to add a golf team in order to meet the Big 12 membership minimum of six men’s sports. And it will be another 15 months before the WVU men tee off.

The interim provides Covich with time to tackle a lengthy startup list—of which including securing area courses on which to practice and play. He also must address the need for indoor training facilities as part of allocating a budget that Luck previously estimated at $250,000 annually.

Then there’s the matter of selling recruits on a program that hasn’t competed in 32 years. What is Covich’s pitch?

“You can be a legend right off the bat,” he said. “You can be the Jerry West of our golf team.”

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. But we can do some special things here, and maybe sooner than people think.” — West Virginia’s new golf coach Sean Covich

Despite a $1.8 million endowments pledge, West Virginia won’t be fully funded with the NCAA-maximum 4.5 scholarships until 2017. That presumably makes for an uphill climb to compete against Big 12 powers like Texas and Oklahoma State. The Longhorns won their third national championship in 2012 and boast an alumni grand slam of Ben Crenshaw (Master’s), Tom Kite (U.S. Open), Justin Leonard (British Open) and Mark Brooks (PGA Championship). The Cowboys own 10 national titles and have reached the NCAA championships 66 time in 67 years.

Covich said those traditional powers had to start somewhere, much lie West Virginia is doing now.

“Somebody had to be the first player to go there. Now it might have been 1930 or 1950 or 1980, but somebody had to be the first kid,” he said. “Hopefully we can talk that kid into coming here by saying, ‘You can be that first kid’ at West Virginia.”

The son of a PGA club pro in Mississippi, Covich played on a regional title team at Meridian Community College before finishing his degree and masters at Mississippi State in 2006. He returned to Meridian and in five seasons earned four coach-of-the-year awards from various golf associations. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Mississippi State, building a reputation as a top-flight recruiter and twice helping the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament.

Scouring WVU’s campus for talented walk-ons could play a role, Covich said. For the former scratch golfer aiming to build a college golf program from scratch, all options are available.

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” he said. “But we can do some special things here, and maybe sooner than people think.”

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Comments

  • TruthTeller

    This coach is in for a rude awakening. The Big 12 conference is controlled by the rich alumni of the bigger schools. WVU's football, baseball and basketball success are being controlled
    and as soon as he starts to win, some one will make a phone call to Oliver to shut it down.
    You watch. I have yet to be proven wrong.

  • Dave Rao

    Sir Covich will shock the world when our infant team wins the Big 12 tourney then dominates the NCAA tourney and I'm betting big that one or more of the team members will take the gold medal in the Rio Olympics in 2016. The comment from Ron from Morgantown mentioning Pikewood being off limits is delusional. Mr. Raese will open his doors to ensure success. Bet on it.

    • Wow

      Also, each golfer will graduate and immediately take all the top spots in all the major PGA events. They will be so superior to everyone else they will only have true competition from their fellow alumni. Morgantown will be the golf Mecca of the world.

  • spike slayer

    Wvu needs to start a softball program

  • Rick55

    An uphill climb for sure. But you gotta love the Coach's attitude. Not whining or making excuses. An indoor facility would be great but I'm assuming that at least the Texas teams don't have or need one. Happy to be corrected if that's not the case. And even though Greenbrier county is a long way from Mtown, it is a world-class course in WV.

    Love being in the Big12!

  • Duane from Morgantown

    Why can't we comment in the IMG story?

    • Fentanyl Bomb

      Not sure. Smells like desperation.

      This is one of the most poorly moderated sites on the Internet, and that is saying something.

      But the story about IMG is closed for comments. That says everything.

      Hope the WVU Golf team sets the world on fire.

  • William

    I peronaly think this is a good move for the university, and am excited to see our guys compete. I'm a amuture golfer my self and enjoy the game. I'm sure the new coach will get the mountaineers on the right track. I will definitely be looking for them on the course in 2015.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    The B12 mandated 6 mens sports but not necessarily golf . So why golf ? ( Instead of Mens track , for example , a sport that has a history at WVU and is more popular with the alumni and fans ) Well we have to follow the $ . The entire budget for golf is 250000$ ( as comparison Huggins makes 3.2m in salary alone to coach BB) . The number of scholarships given out initially for golf will be 1.5 ( football is 85 ) . And its a cheap sport to play at home - WVU doesn't have to build a golf course ( baseball - 21m$ ballpark ) to play home matches . They will just use a local course ( Hey - how about Pikewood ? - not a chance - that's just for elitists.) . Can you imagine if Friend got the job as head coach ? His press conference would be a filibuster . So there you have it - the reason we have Golf at Wvu is because Luck went on the "cheap" when forced to add a sport . Having said that I wish Covich good fortune and I hope Golf can become like Rifle and make the U proud .

    • Rick S.

      You are right, Ron, choosing to add golf was a less expensive alternative. With pay for athletes coming soon, I think the entire college sports landscape will change, with all non-revenue sports being squeezed and being regarded as necessary nuisances that exist for the sole purpose of meeting minimum qualifications. And that is unfortunate.

      When looking at the small number of men's sports sponsored by the Big 12, there were not many choices. While I think track would have been a good choice, I think golf was also a good choice and I think it has the potential to work out well.

      And if nothing else, it gives WVU a great reason to build its own university-owned golf course in the future.

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      Allow me to add one more important fact on why Golf was chosen over other sports . Its easy on the Title 9 . 1.5 scholarships can easily be administered into the total mix without drawing the attention of the OCR .

  • TruthTeller

    LOL!!! As soon as WVU starts to win the phone call will be made to OL and WVU will start losing. It is happening in all the programs at WVU. WVU is being controlled and held back.
    We need a whiste blower to come out and blow the whole story.

    • Realist

      That's cute "truth"teller, did you go to Marshall or Pitt?

      • ViennaGuy

        His tinfoil hat is crooked. :-)

        • TruthTeller

          Yea that is what all the cowards say because they can't handle the truth is use the oh conspiracy theorist or tin hat wearer. The truth is you are a very weak minded individual and can't handle the truth about how things work in this world. Sorry to pop your fantasy world bubble but the truth is out there!!!!

    • An actual athlete

      What in the world are you talking about? Do you have any proof to substantiate your claim. At least your a fan and want us to do well unlike some other posters on this site.

  • Mister Man

    One more sport at which we can excel.

    • Rob

      When has WVU ever excelled in any sport? Also, this many comments about golf, you guys need to seriously find a hobby, skill or just spend more time with your families.

  • Pat

    Good luck coach. It's a tough sell with the climate in Morgantown. Top notch indoor practice facility sure will help. There are some pretty good local golfers though. Doesn't Fairmont State have a golf team?

  • william

    Maybe this will be one sport WVU won't be terrible at.
    How do you like the BIG 12 now WVU fans?
    WVU does not belong in the big 12 for many reasons!

    • ViennaGuy

      I'll take the Big 12 over the Big (L)East any day.

    • Ken in Texas

      A very "small time" attitude. The best thing happening to WVU sports was Luck getting us into the Big 12. Sure beats playing Rutgers, South Fla, etc. The future is bright.

      • Rick S.

        As far as quality of competition, I do not see how playing Texas Tech, Iowa State, or Kansas is any better than playing Rutgers, South Florida, or Cincinnati.

    • Dave

      Love the BIG12. The money we receive from the BIG12 now is only pennies on the dollar compared to what it will be when we get our full share. Just look at what we have done so far. The future of WVU is on the rise whether some people want to believe it or not. Most fans now know that it is going to take some time to adjust to a better conference like the BIG12. I'm talking about coaches, players, facilities and recruiting. Oliver Luck is doing a tremendous job.

    • An actual athlete

      What are those reasons? Where is it that you think we should be playing? Please expand your thoughts

      • Pruntytown

        athlete. You must be new here. William does not have any original thoughts, and as far as expanding that is about the depth of his knowledge.

    • Pat

      I usually ignore your trolling william. But since you asked, I'll answer. Love being in the Big 12!