Just a few years ago, the West Virginia University rifle team was in jeopardy of being disbanded because of athletic department budget concerns. That nearly happened despite the team's sterling record in competition against other colleges and universities.
This week in London, the eyes of the world, both figuratively and in the case of many individual sports fans, literally, were on seven Olympic Games competitors with links to WVU. One is a triathlete and another is a 10,000-meter runner.
The other five are competing or coaching in marksmanship events. Dave Johnson, a 1986 WVU graduate, coaches the U.S. team. WVU rifle coach Jon Hammond is competing for Great Britain. Former Mountaineer Eric Uptagrafft is competing for the U.S. Nicco Campriani, also a former WVU student, is competing for Italy, as is current student Petra Zublasing. Campriani already has won a silver medal, in the 10-meter air rifle competition.
The number of Olympic shooters with links to WVU is not surprising, considering the Mountaineers' rifle team has 14 NCAA championships under its belt. Let's hope WVU officials remember all that if there ever again is consideration of eliminating the rifle team.