MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the summer moves along, football season is starting to appear on the horizon.
A good indication of that in the college ranks are conference media days.
The Big 12’s Media Days will take place next week, July 14-15, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Interview sessions for the players and coaches are slated to be televised by ESPNU and ESPN+ both days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern). Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s state-of-the-conference presser is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on July 14.
Five teams will meet the media each day, and West Virginia is among those up first on Wednesday, July 14, along with Iowa State, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas will follow on Thursday.
The Mountaineers will be represented at the Big 12 Media Days by not only head coach Neal Brown but also running back Leddie Brown and defensive lineman Dante Stills.
Highlighted by 10 home matches, WVU has announced its 2021 men’s soccer schedule.
The Mountaineers’ slate features 17 regular-season matches, with three exhibition contests. In all, WVU is set to take on five teams who qualified for the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament this fall, including two College Cup participants.
Additionally, three of WVU’s six Mid-American Conference games will be played at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.
“We’re looking forward to a very challenging, yet exciting 2021 season,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “The team must deal with a quick turnaround following last spring’s action, but we know we’ll be ready for a schedule that features several big names and prominent programs from around the sport. We also know that conference play is always a battle in the MAC, and this year should be no different in that regard. Overall, we believe the strength of this schedule provides us with a good mix of opponents that should push us toward constant improvement. Perhaps the biggest excitement, however, will be seeing our strong base of support being back in the stadium to help us every step of the way.”
Following home exhibition play against Duquesne (Friday, Aug. 13) and Charleston (Saturday, Aug. 21), as well as a road exhibition at Saint Francis (Pa.) on Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Mountaineers open the 2021 campaign at Robert Morris on Thursday, Aug. 26. From there, the squad begins play in Morgantown with a four-match homestand. The home opener is set for Monday, Aug. 30, with the renewal of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt. Then, Penn State comes to town on Friday, Sept. 3, before West Virginia plays host to Loyola (Md.) on Monday, Sept. 6, and Ohio State on Friday, Sept. 10.
WVU hits the road again on Friday, Sept. 17, as the team travels to Huntington, West Virginia, to take on defending National Champion Marshall. After that, the Mountaineers return home for three straight matches against Dayton on Thursday, Sept. 21, St. Bonaventure on Saturday, Sept. 25, and Akron on Thursday, Sept. 30, to open MAC play.
West Virginia begins October with four consecutive road matches. The stretch opens at Lehigh on Thursday, Oct. 5, before a conference trip sends WVU to Northern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 9. WVU also is set to travel to MAC foe Western Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 16, as well as Kentucky on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Then, the Mountaineers return to Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium for a pair of matches, beginning with a fixture against Elon on Saturday, Oct. 23. After that, WVU battles in back-to-back MAC matches against league newcomers Georgia State (Thursday, Oct. 28) and at Georgia Southern (Sunday, Oct. 31), before the squad caps the regular season at home with its final conference showdown against Bowling Green on Thursday, Nov. 4.
Ticket information for the 2021 campaign at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium will be announced at a later date.
WVU is coming off a 6-3-1 mark in Stratford’s debut season at the helm in 2020-21’s spring-only slate. The squad is set to return its top seven goal scorers, as well as 12 of 13 players who started at least five matches last spring.
The 2021 season marks the final year of competition for West Virginia in the Mid-American Conference, before the program joins Conference USA in 2022.
The Mountaineer Athletic Club has a new leader.
WVU director of athletics Shane Lyons has named Patrick Gray as the Senior Associate Athletics Director/Executive Director of the MAC.
Gray takes over a job previously held by Ben Murray, who left this past spring to become the head of Nebraska’s Huskers Athletic Fund.
Gray will be responsible for the management and leadership of all development activities within WVU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and serve as its lead fundraiser. He will direct and oversee the annual fund, endowments, funding for capital projects, special events, major and planned gifts as well as the priority seating, suite and club seat programs.
He will serve on the senior leadership team of the WVU Foundation and Athletics Department, while leading a metrics-driven, results-oriented fundraising effort designed to enhance donor cultivation and contributions to WVU athletics.
“Patrick brings a great deal of experience to the MAC, and we are excited to have him lead our fundraising efforts,” Lyons said. “Our donors will enjoy getting to know him, and they will be pleased with his professionalism and ideas. Our MAC opening drew a lot of attention from around the country, and it became clear that Patrick was the choice to lead our fundraising efforts.”
Gray comes to West Virginia from the University of Michigan where he worked in different capacities since 2015. He began his tenure with the Wolverines as director of development and was promoted to senior director in 2018. In his last role, he was named the assistant athletic director for development and a member of Michigan’s development leadership team.
“I’m very excited to have Patrick Gray joining our development leadership team,” B.J. Davisson, WVU Foundation Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer, said. “Athletics fundraising is extremely important to WVU and the Foundation. I’m quite confident Patrick will do an excellent job in leading this area of our development operation to an even higher level of success.”
At Michigan, Gray oversaw major gifts and the annual giving team as he directed the fundraising areas of the East Coast, Southern states and West Coast for the Wolverines. He successfully secured one-time, pledged and deferred commitments and worked to develop individual donor strategies and regional engagement opportunities. Traveling extensively to secure and develop donor support, Gray also oversaw Michigan’s premium seating plan and played a key role in the past year, through fundraising, to help Michigan’s athletics department overcome the budget constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to Michigan, Gray spent five years at the University of Georgia where he progressed from assistant to associate and then director of development for the Georgia Bulldog Club. He managed major donor portfolios, the annual giving fund and started a fundraising club for former student-athletes, while creating a young alumni ticket program, which brought new members into the Bulldog Club.
Gray started his career in collegiate fundraising at the University of North Carolina where he was a development assistant. While in Chapel Hill, he worked on a fundraising team to help raise $70 million for a football stadium expansion and secure more than $10 million in annual fund donations.
Before entering collegiate athletics, Gray worked for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2003-07 in community, player and alumni relations. He generated and implemented community programming, promotions and sponsorship for the Blue Jays and served as a player liaison with club management and the city of Toronto.
“I would like to thank Shane Lyons, Steve Uryasz and the WVU Foundation for affording me this opportunity,” Gray said. “My family and I are excited to join the Morgantown community and meeting all of those who make up Mountaineer Nation. I look forward to serving the University and continuing to build on the solid foundation that has been established within the Mountaineer Athletic Club.”
Gray earned his bachelor’s degree from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada in 2003 and a master’s degree from North Carolina in 2009. Patrick and his wife, Melanie, have two children, Jacob and Benjamin. He will start his new duties at WVU on July 26.
There is additional movement in the Mountaineer Athletic Club.
Jamie Hall, who worked for the MAC for the last five years, the past three as an assistant athletic director for donor relations and administration, announced on social media Wednesday that she was leaving WVU to become the vice president for donor relations and stewardship at LSU’s Tiger Athletic Foundation.
A Brooke (W.Va.) High graduate, Hall earned her college degree from WVU. She previously worked at James Madison and Colorado State prior to being hired by her alma mater in 2016.
Someone else on the move is Buckhannon, West Virginia, native Chris Wallace.
A 35-year veteran of the NBA, which included spending 10 years as the general manager of the Boston Celtics (1997-2007) and 14 as the G.M. and senior advisor to player personnel with the Memphis Grizzlies (2007-2021), Wallace is now headed to the Houston Rockets where he will serve as the director of scouting.