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Friday / June 23.
  • Pat White Rips West Virginia Baseball Coach

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    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.”

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    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 whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. 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.

    • Wow, that’s some pretty strong stuff from Pat White.

      I’m surprised that nobody else in the media has picked up on this. Did Pat say this stuff just to you or was it in an open-mic setting with other media present?

    • There were 1 or 2 other reporters there. Dick Weiss from the Daily News also heard him and we talked it over. He may include it in a story, as will I in a feature on Pat for later this week at SNY.tv.

      I think Pat was being frank and honest in his feelings, and you can’t argue with that.

      • the original question; did you mic the accusations,did you have witnesses. your reply…..” 1 or 2 reporters were there” which was it ?? ONE OR TWO??? WHY DID YOU HAVE OR COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER REPORTER; SEEMS THIS STORY WOULD BE THE CAT’S MEOW…WHY SHARE??? YOU DO KNOW THAT EXTERNAL WITNESSES HAVE A STRONG HISTORY OF “shuffling off” into the dark. time will tell….but i simply believe that a good reporter would have confirmed the actual sequence of events with pat white and not another dick weiss. you seem to be filling in the blanks as necessary,be careful,that is what RR tried with wvu.

        • I have the conversation on tape. I verified the comments several times by listening again. I also went over them with another reporter who was there. Dick Weiss of the Daily News heard them, and I believe Pete Thamel of the NY Times as well.

          I then mentioned them to the WVU SID so he was aware.

          I’ve been a newspaper and internet reporter for 10 years and stand by the comments. They are on tape.

    • Folks:

      I just played the tape for Jeff Rider of the WV Gazette and my understanding is that he will be running the comments in tomorrow’s editions.

      To clarify, I had no idea Pat would make these comments. I was simply curious about why he wasn’t playing baseball and he offered the comments about race and the baseball coach. I think he was being frank and sincere and I admire him for it.

      I left a message for Van Zant, who has not yet returned my call.

    • Thanks for the story, Adam.

      I would like a bit of clarification, though. I’m thrown off by the parentheticals inserted into PW’s comments.

      Specifically:
      Asked if he had spoken directly with Van Zant about playing for him, White said: “(No), he wasn’t (excited). He wasn’t interested.”

      Did PW say that he hadn’t spoken with Van Zant? Did he shake his head? Why the “(No)”?

      I also don’t understand your use of “(excited)”.

      Did White actually just say “he wasn’t…he wasn’t interested” ?

      Thanks in advance for any clarification.

    • I asked him if the coach was “excited” about White potentially playing baseball and he shook his head, No.

    • Greg Van Zant is arrogant, content to load up his schedule with weak teams at home to win 30-35 games per year and finish in the upper half of a weak Big East, at least for baseball. He has no intention of challenging his program or becoming anything more than a scholarship eater in Olympic sports.

      WVU scheduled Akron, went to the Coastal Carolina tournament (where they met Western Carolina, the home team and then Marshall for the first time in a decade, as Van Zant refuses to play in Huntington or Charleston since the two games in the early 1990s at Watt Powell Park), Iona, Coppin State, Morehead State, St. Bonaventure, Morehead State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Ohio, Dusquesne and Youngstown out of conference.

      The Big East’s top team was Louisville, who was #51 in RPI. USF was #62, Cincinnati was #83, Notre Dame #98 and WVU #102. Their ranking was the lowest of any team with at least 35 wins except for Liberty and Bethune-Cookman.

      • Stats to back up these comments:
        2008: 21-5 non-conference record, 14-16 in conference
        2007: 19-6 non-conference record, 10-16 in conference
        2006: 22-9 non-conference record, 14-13 in conference
        2005: 15-15 non-conference record, 10-15 in conference
        2004: 13-13 non-conference record, 10-16 in conference

    • I can tell you from first hand experience that GVZ is not a well liked coach in fact he is often hated. I have a pretty good idea who put up the GVZ sucks website, it’s most likely the same ex player who took it upon himself to write down all of GVZ’s signs and tendencies and mail them to every coach on WVU’s schedule. I believe that was back in 01 or 02.

      Fact is GVZ isn’t a very good coach, fact is he doesn’t really coach at all. For the most part his players hate him because he treats them as servants and he’s the master. When I was there he was going through a divorce and at times really took out his frustrations on the players. GVZ understands situational game strategy but he knows almost nothing about hitting and pitching fundamentals.

      GVZ’s players have been complaining about him for years but no one listens. It’s not until Pat White steps up and says something does anyone take notice. I don’t think GVZ is racist, I think he’ll sign anyone that can help him win but Pat’s comments about his players not liking him is 100% true. I know I lot of former WVU baseball player support Pat’s statements and think it’s about time this came to light.

    • The fact is he called that guy a racist and that guy is hired and supported by the university. This needs to be fleshed out.

      I’m thinking that White is gonna back way off his original comments are this just has to blow up. — Bob J.

    • Ooops — I’m thinking that White is gonna back way off his original comments or this story just has to blow up. — Bob J.

      Just wanted to fix that. 😉

    • I don’t see where White said anything that was false. Look around online and you’ll find a website dedicated to how terrible Van Zant is (gvz-sucks.com). You can also find posts all over the place (including this page) where former players say how terrible he is.

      I’d like to comment on woodywoodrum’s information about Van Zant and playing crappy teams. Here are stats that back that up:

      2008: 21-5 non-conference record, 14-16 in conference
      2007: 19-6 non-conference record, 10-16 in conference
      2006: 22-9 non-conference record, 14-13 in conference
      2005: 15-15 non-conference record, 10-15 in conference
      2004: 13-13 non-conference record, 10-16 in conference