Legacy: The Departure Of West Virginia Athletic Director Ed Pastilong

RG YohoCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 13:  Da'Sean Butler #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers kisses the championship trophy after defeating the Georgetown Hoyas during the championship of the 2010 NCAA Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

In June of this year, West Virginia Athletic Director Ed Pastilong will be stepping down from his job, a position that he has held for over 20 years (and I will be saying more about this story in the months to come.)

When you are talking with West Virginia fans and you mention that you like Ed Pastilong, then you quickly need to duck or pucker. These Mountaineer partisans will either kiss you or take a swing at you.

Like any athletic director at a major university, Pastilong is certainly not without his critics.

Personally, I will be sorry to see him go.

It is my understanding that Pastilong will be retained by the university for two years. He will be responsible for mentoring of his successor, in much the way that his predecessor, Fred Schaus did with him.

Much of the success that West Virginia has recently enjoyed has been under the shrewd guidance of Mr. Pastilong. And many of the problems that the Mountaineers have avoided have been under his tenure as well.

When former football coach Rich Rodriguez, an ego in search of game and fortune, deliberately broke his contract with the school, he made a number of unsubstantiated charges against the university and Mr. Pastilong, specifically.

Part of what angered Rodriguez was Pastilong’s stubborn resistance to giving the coach free rein with all aspects of the football program. However, as we are currently seeing with Michigan football, it would be an understatement to state that Rodriguez often does not follow the better angels of human nature.

Rodriguez’s bitter angels tend to lead him in paths that will invariably incur the wrath of the NCAA. And that is what you are currently watching take place right now in Ann Arbor.

However, these NCAA violations, no matter whether they were large or insignificant, are precisely the minefields that Pastilong sought to avoid, at the same time he was building a powerful athletic program throughout West Virginia University sports.

On no fewer than three occasions, Ed Pastilong has overseen the football team’s pursuit of a national championship. Under his guidance, he led the football program into the Big East and salvaged the conference when Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College defected.

When John Belein also left to join the friendly confined of Michigan basketball, Pastilong quickly upgraded, hiring former Mountaineer alumnus, Bob Huggins.

The results clearly speak for themselves.

Part of the reason that the man has been so successful is that West Virginia athletics isn’t just a job with the athletic director; it is Pastilong’s passion. A former Mountaineer quarterback in the early to mid ‘60s, Ed first joined the university in 1976.

A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Pastilong worked and raised his family in Morgantown. Moreover, he has consistently given his life to the school.

Since his promotion in 1987, Pastilong has been at the helm of Mountaineer sports. He has successfully guided them through many storms and always brought them safely home to the harbor.

As anybody who has followed college athletics can quickly affirm, a school’s athletic director is crucial to the success of a program. One can only hope that Pastilong’s successor will enjoy the same level of achievement, or perhaps, to take the program to even greater heights.

Ed Pastilong has been loyal.

He has been successful.

And the man will clearly be missed.