WVU AD Wren Baker: Brown to return in 2024, Battle’s push for eligibility continues

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A three-win improvement from last season and the possibly of a ninth win later this month in a bowl game means that WVU head football coach Neal Brown will return for a sixth season in 2024. WVU Director of Athletics Wren Baker ended any lingering speculation Friday, speaking on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.

“I have never said anything to speculate differently. I know other people speculate but Coach Brown is going to be our football coach. We are excited about what the future holds and we’re excited about building on what was a really good year,” Baker said.

“I was very pleased with the way the team performed and the way our coaches and staff performed. I thought they did a really good job. You are picked 14th [in the Big 12 preseason media poll]. I think the over/under on the win total was 4, 4-and-a-half, something like that. To finish fourth and double that win total and still have a chance to win a game in the bowl, I think our coaches did a really good job.”

Sep 16, 2023; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown and West Virginia University Athletic Director Wren Baker talk as the team arrives before their game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Baker said he and Brown have not discussed an extension of his current contract, which runs through the end of the 2026 season.

“He still has three years left, which I think is a good amount of time. It is not like you are down to a year or two. Three is still a fairly significant amount of time. More than the years, what speaks to stability is the guaranteed portion of the contract. The years aren’t as important as how much you have involved in if you were to make a change.

“We’ll get to a place where we talk about all of our staff and our program and how we move forward. I don’t think where we are at right now creates any concern or instability.”

West Virginia posted an 8-4 regular season record and a 6-3 mark in Big 12 play. Both win totals were program-bests in Brown’s five-year tenure as head coach.

The Mountaineers await their bowl destination. Selections will be announced on Sunday afternoon.

RaeQuan Battle eligibility update

RaeQuan Battle. Photo by Greg Carey

The push to allow WVU guard RaeQuan Battle to play this season continues through two different tracks. On Saturday, Battle released a statement saying the NCAA’s decision to deny him immediate eligibility was “wrong”. Battle has retained Attorney James A. “Rocky” Gianola to take up his legal case.

Meanwhile, WVU’s next step is to submit to the NCAA what Baker called a “Request for Reconsideration”. That process is underway.

“We intend to do that. RaeQuan’s attorney probably has other things he is doing as well. We are making sure we are communicating just so everyone knows what each other is doing. I expect in the next day or two, we will submit a request for reconsideration. I am hoping the young  man gets a chance to play. He is a wonderful person and he has been through a lot.”

Battle is a two-time undergraduate transfer. He started his college career at Washington before transferring to Montana State. The NCAA has significantly limited immediate eligibility waivers for two-time undergraduate transfers after a spike in one-time undergraduate transfers. Baker believes that Battle’s case merits immediate eligibility.

“I do believe that RaeQuan’s situation deserves for him to get a waiver. I thought we had a good chance to get the original waiver approved. I thought when we got our feedback from that waiver, we had a really good chance to get the appeal approved. I was very disappointed about that and I shared that disappointment. I think RaeQuan made a good decision to hire counsel on his own. We had hired counsel to help with the original waiver submission.”

The Mountaineers are six games into their 31-game regular season.

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