April 22, 2006

WVU student caught spying on Marshall

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Nothing like a little spy scandal to spice up the football rivalry between West Virginia and Marshall.

Heading into only their second matchup in 83 years - and it took the governor's involvement to help set this September's game - school officials on both sides confirm a West Virginia student was caught spying at a Marshall practice this month.

The student was confronted April 11 after he was spotted sitting in the bleachers at Edwards Stadium taking detailed notes in a stenographer's notebook.

Thundering Herd practices have been open to the public this spring, but NCAA rules prohibit opposing coaches or football program representatives from attending another school's practice without permission.

The student works in the building where West Virginia's football offices are located. His name wasn't released because he wasn't criminally charged.

"We're treating it as a student conduct incident," Marshall Public Safety Director Jim Terry told the Charleston Daily Mail.

The teams are set to play Sept. 2 in Morgantown. They last met in football in 1997 - that was their first game since 1923.

In 2005, Gov. Joe Manchin announced the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd would meet in a seven-game series. The schools play in other sports, but football has long been a sticking point.

Mark Gale, Marshall's director of football operations, said the student never admitted that he was enrolled at West Virginia. But officials found a card in his pocket that listed the names of the Mountaineer football staff and their phone numbers.

Marshall officials said the undergraduate student initially claimed to be a member of the media who was taking notes for a story. When challenged, they added, he said he attended the University of Alabama-Birmingham, one of the Thundering Herd's Conference USA rivals.

Then he allegedly tried to flee.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said the student was acting "without the authority of anyone in the athletic department or anyone on the football staff."

Pastilong said that after the spying incident was brought to light, the student's work-study assignment was moved outside the Puskar Center.

"Following discussions between the schools and the coaches, we're putting the issue behind us," he said.

Pastilong's counterpart at Marshall, Bob Marcum, joked that he's just pleased that someone cares enough to check up on Marshall.




 

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