MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University freshman was in critical condition at a Morgantown hospital after what university officials called “a catastrophic medical emergency.” 

Nolan Burch of Buffalo, NY, is an 18-year-old freshman at WVU.


Nolan Burch of Buffalo, N.Y., is an 18-year-old freshman at WVU. This photo was taken on North High Street in Morgantown.

Morgantown police said Nolan Michael Burch, 18, of Buffalo, N.Y., was found on the floor of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at 11:52 p.m. Wednesday. Police said another person was performing CPR on Burch when they arrived. He was rushed to Ruby Memorial Hospital where he remained in critical condition Thursday night.

WVU officials held an emergency meeting Thursday that included the Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Council, where they placed an immediate moratorium on all Greek activities.

First, our hearts, prayers and support go out to the student who is gravely ill and his family. Right now that is our utmost concern,” said Dean of Students Corey Farris, Inter-Fraternity Council President Ansh Kumar and Panhellenic Council President Rachel Poe in a joint statement.

The moratorium includes all pledging and social activities for fraternities and sororities at WVU.

Burch had tweeted Wednesday, “It’s about to be a very eventful night to say the least.”

Social media postings Thursday indicated Burch was in grave condition and friends were saying their goodbyes.

Farris said the Wednesday night incident, and one that took place involving the Sigma Chi fraternity last week in a Morgantown, neighborhood prompted the moratorium.

“It’s just the right time to take a pause to take a look at, in particular, where our fraternities and sororities have been and where they’re going, make sure it’s the right direction we want our students to be walking,” Farris told WAJR Radio in Morgantown Thursday night.

Last week, a group of students were involved in a neighborhood disruption that saw three students arrested and 16 others cited. Police said all had been drinking and all were under the legal age.

Farris said the most recent incidents don’t fully represent Greek life at WVU.

“As with most things that go on around us, there are a few problems here and there and you stop and deal with them. But, not everything is bad,” he said.

Police said Burch’s family was at his side while investigators were trying to find pledges or fraternity members that may have been with Burch Wednesday night.

“We know we’ve got a medical emergency with someone in the hospital, (but) the details behind it, we just don’t know,” Farris said. “Quite honestly our focus is that particular thing right now, we’ve got thoughts and prayers out for the student and the family.”

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  • william

    Kids will be Kids!

    • Ruzi

      Are you a moron? Parents do not send their child/ren to college to become victim/s to endure a serious medical situation to become a brother or sister of a fraternal organization.

      There are fraternal organizations making a positive statement in the community, yet, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the entire community. Accountability and responsibility must take precedence.

      My prayers goes out to the family and friends of this young man. This is a painful situation. Not, excuses such as your response. "Boys will be Boys"! He was a son of parents who loved him.

      Just walk in the parents shoes at this moment!!!!!

      • Jeff

        Burch was not a victim of anything but stupidity. He chose, out of his own will, to wash down his drugs with too much alcohol. He was not being forced to drink, he simply chose to do it in his fraternity house. I'm not saying fraternities don't foster this sort of reckless behavior. They do. But wvu as a whole fosters this sort of behavior. I know more kids who have overdosed on heroin at wvu this year who have no affiliation with greek life than I know of any greek org members who have had any sort of overdose related incident. The spotlight is on the Greek community, however, so it will always be picked apart with scrutiny.

    • annebeth66

      These people are not "kids" but adults, whom are old enough to vote, old enough to serve in the military, so old enough to know how to act.

  • Harpers Ferry

    The "party school" reputation at WVU has become a problem that the school MUST address. It's unfortunate that those of you who think the students are the victims or that WVU has gone too far have to be reminded that WVU is an institution of higher learning, not a 24/7 party. If these ADULTS actually think they can go through life with no consequences for their actions, then what kind of success would WVU be setting them up for? No one forced these students to attend college, or attend WVU. If they can't carry themselves in an appropriate way, then get out!

    • RedGal

      Agree! As a parent of two soon to be WVU grads, the students do have to assume responsibilities for their behaviors and learn logical consequences. I don't agree with suspending all Greek activities. The organizations involved should be the recipient of the moratorium. I understand the party school reputation, and as a parent, I remember entrusting my "kid" to WVU. But, I also remember entrusting and equipping my "kid" with information and skills to make good decisions and behave as the young adults they were and are.

    • Teresa

      100% agreed.

  • Commenter

    This is racism, they need to call Johnny Cochran, Greeks are a minority but they have rights too, this is the USA after all.

    • annebeth66

      So sorry but Cochran died back in 2005.

      • Commenter

        Sorry, I'm just grasping for straws here, I don't know any good Greek civil rights activists or attorneys, only black ones...

      • Commenter

        Ok then, call Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson, or that black guy who was Trayvon Martins families attorney, call someone!

      • Realist

        As you undoubtedly will learn, lack of knowledge or background doesn't filter postings to this website.

        • Commenter

          Don't be so hard on yourself, you're never to old to learn. You could even go back to college if you wanted.

  • The bookman

    It is so easy to paint with the broad brush and call out groups instead of dealing punishment to the obvious offenders. All too often authorities take this easy path to assuage the public that swift justice and attention are being brought to bear.

    But like the post Baylor debacle, this too shall pass only to rear its ugly head again at a later date.
    Throw out the bums.....but do it selectively. Be complete and without mercy to those who can be clearly identified, using a scalpel to extract them in place of this giant tarp being used to cover up the problem.

    But all is quiet in the University City tonight, I'm sure.

    • Jake

      I am so glad my daughter chose to go to another school. Nothing but thugs and problems there.

      • The bookman

        Sadly, there are thugs and problems everywhere. Call your daughter and tell her to not let her guard down simply because she isn't in Morgantown. And you need to lift your head out of the sand. There is no magic potion for common sense.

      • The flying dutchman

        Hey Alice, wake up if you think this is limited to Wvu....your smugness may come back to bite one day...a more appropriate comment would have prayers for the student and his family...

      • Mom of WVU student

        As of mother of a sophomore at WVU, my son is not a thug. He takes his studies seriously. Maybe you should think about your comments while calling people thugs, when you do not know everyone at WVU. Instead, maybe pray for the family involved in this horrible tragedy.

        • RedGal

          Preach it, WVU I have two sons at WVU who will graduate in December. NEITHER of which are thugs. While enjoying college life (as they should), they've studied, held down jobs and worked hard to succeed at WVU. Jake should remove his head from his arse and try a different perspective, perhaps.

      • sean kenney

        Have a little sensitivity, there is a child laying in a hospital bed and your "im glad my daughter didn't go to school there"...

      • Just sayin

        Glad she did too! No thugs or problems at any other schools. Probably won't be long until she ends up in either a mug shot, Girls Gone Wild episode, or Girls of the Mountain East Conference Penthouse spread. But hey, just sayin with a dad like you, what could possibly go wrong?

  • John Dahlia

    This is so sad. Another horrible story about a great institution. On the one hand I'm glad the University folks are taking a proactive approach. On the other hand, it's a negative news story going viral.

  • Dean Wormer

    "Get Neidermeyer on this.."

    • LDB



    AJ, there is no basis of fact in your outrageous comment.

    As for the position taken by the university, while I will not disagree that there are behavioral issues within the Greek community, these issues do not occur only within the fraternity and sorority houses at WVU (and across the nation), these issues of binge drinking,substance abuse, etc.... run rampant across the entire WVU campus, city, county, state, and country. With this stance, is it safe for us to assume that the next student athlete - football player or other - caught up in an incident (legal, criminal, and others which have already occurred many times) is assumed to be sanctioned by, and a product of, the athletic department, thereby resulting in a shutdown of all athletic activities? I don't see how the university can do anything less than take this very action. The precedent has now been set.

    The truth is that this is nothing more than grandstanding on the part of WVU to give the illusion that "action" is being taken. Perhaps the Greek community should self impose a suspension on all philanthropic activities for the remainder of the year and request that all remaining "active" university sanctioned organizations make up the difference.

    I am all for solving these problems and certainly for avoiding any incident where one of our young people is harmed, but WVU is just kicking the can down the road until the "couch smoke" clears instead of really trying to solve the problems. WVU is my alma mater and I want only the best for the university, but WVU is really no different on this topic than most other universities across the country. It's a difficult issue with no easy answers. But this action does nothing substantive and solves nothing.

    As for the City of Morgantown and Mon County, if you want to help, start shutting down the bars that stay open all night and consistently serve to minors. That's so obvious and easy it's rediculus to argue any different. Unless the thought of losing the tax revenue generated by these establishments is somehow clouding your view of what is really happening. Nah, that couldn't be it, probably just the smoke from the couch fires getting in your eyes.

    • Connor Knuckles

      I honestly couldn't have said it any better myself. How many times do we have to close properties like the one most recently known as exhale hookah, for things like drug distribution and other illegal activities. Maybe the city of morgantown is more to blame than anything else. Somebody keeps letting this happen. Don't blame the university for things that it can only control to an extent. These kids are living in a town with it's own history, which revolves around a whole lot more than just our university. Just as a child can't help who or what he or she is born with, neither can we.
      For those who are constantly attacking President Gee, please stop. You don't know what you're talking about and have no idea who he even is or what he's done for our school. None of you see this because you're so caught up in your own little lives. You want to "fix" morgantown? Try talking to the city council not lay all the blame on an innocent man just trying to guide our future generations to the next step in their lives.

  • Bob

    untill they are competitive in salary for staff things like this will keep happening. It's easy for staff to just look the other way when you are making welfair wages.

    Just keep looking the other way !

    • Uncle Unctuous

      Wide right!

  • wv4evah

    More reporting-via-handout. MetroNews should have investigated to learn the details that are so, so lacking in this article.

  • Lynne

    This is a tragic accident. However, I wonder if this ban is also placed on service and academic fraternities. It seems unfair to halt all Greek organizations, especially ones that are strictly alcohol and drug free, when there is a very clear few who are predominantly responsible for all the bad publicity.

  • AJ

    Place them on permanent ban. The Greeks have been giving WVU a very bad name the past couple years from fights, debauchery, drugs, orgies, and other reckless stuff (Baylor riots). The kids were abusing the privileges the university has provided to them. No more. The city, state, and residents are taking this university back.

    • Jay

      You're an idiot for thinking this is all Greek life's fault.. GDI's fight every night. GDI's do drugs and get way to wasted... GDI's blame Greek life because it's their time to take shots at us. If this happened at a house party this wouldn't Be happening at all

    • Megan K.

      Can we just take a second to realize that WVU is known to be a "PARTY SCHOOL" that it is not only Greeks, it's majority of the campus. Kids I knew in high school went there three years ago because it was all about the partying. This incident is extremely unfortunate, but could have happened anywhere on that campus or any other for that matter. It is about education of alcohol for these young students and the consequences. I agree that there should be sanctions for these two groups that have been causing troubles and violating University and their National bylaws, but these incidents out of the 28 greek organizations on campus, only makes up 1%. It is extremely unfortunate, but people need to stop blaming Greek life. Deal with the problem greeks, but the others do great things. This is coming from a current active member in a chapter at another large school.

  • Joe

    Mr. Gee, this university both functionally and athletically is completely out of hand.

    You are not leading but hiding.

    • Connor Knuckles

      That was literally the stupidest thing Iv ever heard. Stop pointing the finger and be respectful of what's happened. I'm sure Mr. Gee didn't ask for this to happen and also, mind you that we have not done this well in football since 2012. You should check your facts before making outlandish accusations that make no sense.

    • ViennaGuy

      Yes, it's athletically out-of-hand because we're not playing in a patsy conference anymore.

      Sheesh ...

    • Steve

      How is see University athletically out of hand? ESPN's college football game day seemed to think that all was well with WVU's football program.

      • Sally

        They go to the game that they project will give them the most views.

      • dangerousdaneerfan

        Sen Joe wants his buddy Eddie Pasthisprime and the Good Old Boy network back in charge.

    • AJ

      Stupid comment Joe. I think he has a great job givend the circumstances

      • Joe

        He definitely has a great job given the circumstances.

  • The Frat involved was

    Kappa Sig

    • former student

      Actually it was sigma chi. Those arrested in south park claimed they were kappa sig but no...sigma chi were the culprits

      • Current Student

        actually, Sig Chi was the one in South Park claiming to be TKEs, and the incident reported here was Kappa Sig, completely unrelated.

  • Pickle Barrel

    Anybody know the fraternity involved?

    • Johnna

      Sigma chi is where the pledges got arrested and kappa sig is where the young boy died.

  • Ricky

    What would make a teenager have a heart attack? Hmmm..

    • flossrancher

      Ricky: I searched the story for "heart attack" and did not find it. Work on your reading skills.