The chairman of West Virginia University's board of governors today defended his school against donor accusations that WVU failed to do what was necessary to keep head football coach Rich Rodriguez from leaving.
Stephen Goodwin said those donors, while they give valued advice to the university, "do not dictate policy or personnel."
His statement was WVU's response to backlash from some major supporters that appears to be endangering multimillion-dollar gifts. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the issue this morning.
The clamor followed Mr. Rodriguez's announcement this week that he had accepted the head coaching job at the University of Michigan.
In his statement, Mr. Goodwin said, "WVU appreciates donors to its academic and athletic programs. The university and the board listen to their suggestions, as we listen to students, alumni, faculty and staff."
He went on to say:
"People who are successful in other areas of life often have important insights into how we operate, how we are perceived, and how we can improve the university.
"At the end of the day, the university is governed by its board and its president, and the people they appoint to positions of responsibility.
"Making donations to a public university does not entitle anyone to dictate policy or personnel."
Mr. Goodwin said the board "has a lot of confidence" in how Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and WVU President Mike Garrison are dealing with the coaching change.
He said both had taken a responsible approach throughout and that the university had received support from many alumni, donors and other supporters.
"WVU went to the ends of the earth to keep the coach here and clearly, some of our major donors assisted the school in that effort," he said.
"There were some minor issues that he (Mr. Rodriguez) raised . . . with the administration, and people were working on them," Mr. Goodwin said.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.