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Crutchfield Says He’s Happy at West Liberty

March 31, 2011
By JIM ELLIOTT , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WEST LIBERTY - As the rumors continue to swirl around insanely successful West Liberty men's basketball coach Jim Crutchfield being lured from the school, the coach is sometimes the last to know.

''I just sit back and let my wife look on Facebook, and she'll tell me where I'm going next,'' he said.

The social network had him linked to the vacancy at the University of Dayton on Wednesday, something that Crutchfield said he knew nothing about.

Article Photos

Jim Crutchfield

''Sometimes rumors have a way of feeding themselves and getting bigger and bigger,'' he said.

While he admits he has been contacted by other schools, he maintains he's happy at West Liberty - his home for the past 21 years - and doesn't let the speculation take control.

Unless, of course, the University of Hawaii (not BYU-Hawaii, mind you) comes calling.

''I like the beach,'' he joked. ''I like that kind of climate.''

For now, he remains a Hilltopper.

''At this point in time, I haven't thought about it as much as people think I have,'' he said. ''Like anybody else, I don't rule anything out. But I've thought about nothing but West Liberty.

''It would be awful hard to leave a place where people are so nice, from the faculty, to the fans, to the players and people I work with. It would be awful hard to leave this situation.''

No doubt. But there's also a reality here. We see it every day in college athletics.

In the last seven years, Crutchfield has turned his basketball coaching resume into a winning lottery ticket. He's the winningest active coach in NCAA Division II men's basketball with a record of 175-40, an .814 winning percentage.

And that's not even his greatest calling card.

People love the way his teams play.

''Everybody is looking to put people in the bleachers,'' he said. ''If there is an interest in me, that's where it comes from - the business end.''

West Liberty averaged 111.3 points per game last season in a year in which no other Division II team even averaged 90. The Hilltoppers' average margin of victory (29.7) was the highest on record in the last 50 years.

So yeah, athletics directors around the country are going to notice that. They might also have noticed the attendance spike at West Liberty, where the ASRC was bursting at its seems for much of the latter part of the season and into the playoffs.

Still, the coach, whose basketball coaching roots were planted at nearby Cameron High School, says West Liberty is home.

''My thoughts up to the last week have to been trying to win a national championship,'' he said. ''And since, it's been getting a couple days of rest and then working on putting together the pieces for another run.''

As for the speculation and rumors, well, they likely won't end any time soon.

''I don't get too excited about it one way or another,'' Crutchfield said. ''Things are good right now. We're trying to enjoy this while we can. This can be a fickle business.''

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at:

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