Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWPORT, R.I. – The most interesting and controversial comments from Big East Football Media Day came from West Virginia senior QB Pat White, who said he did not play for the school’s baseball team this spring because there haven’t been many African-American players on the team.
“In my knowledge of West Virginia baseball, there’s not been many players of my race on his (head coach Greg Van Zant’s) team,” said White, who is African-American. “He’s not too high on it.”
Van Zant did not immediately return a phone message left at his office.
A Heisman Trophy candidate, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound White is also a talented outfielder. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Anaheim Angels in the 2004 MLB Draft and was selected in the 50th round of the 2008 MLB June Draft despite not playing baseball since his senior year of high school.
White said he discussed playing baseball this year with new head football coach Bill Stewart, a big baseball fan.
“A couple months ago he told me if I wanted to play, I could,” White said of Stewart. “He knows the game and (he knows) there’s few athletes on the team that can play more than one sport and he just wanted to give (me) the opportunity.”
Stewart praised White as the “second coming of Major Harris” and said “people in West Virginia are blessed” that White is the school’s quarterback.
He joked that White told him he wasn’t going to play baseball because he couldn’t hit the curveball.
“Coach, I don’t know if I can hit the curve,” Stewart quoted White as saying.
White, however, said he would have considered playing, but not for Van Zant.
“I definitely thought it over, I still think about it sometimes,” White said. “I’m loyal to my (football) team. I have another year left. I want us to be successful and I want to be part of that success.”
The West Virginia football team was picked by the Big East coaches to finish first in the eight-team league following last year’s victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Asked if he had spoken directly with Van Zant about playing for him, White said: “(No), he wasn’t (excited). He wasn’t interested.”
Then he paused and added:
“In my knoweldge of West Virginia baseball, there’s not been many players of my race on his team. He’s not too high on it.
“Every player I’ve talked to doesn’t like him. He’s not a well-liked coach but I guess he has tenure so they never got rid of him. They’re not successful at all.”
Asked if he might have played if there were a different baseball coach at West Virginia, White said, “Maybe.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.