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Exponent-Telegram editorial for Sunday, September 27, 1998

WVU has a right to protect its image

Finally, some good news out of Morgantown. One of the golf-ball throwing students is gone.

WVU sophomore Jason Matthew Waugh of Langhorne, Pa., withdrew from school Wednesday, the same day he was fined $50 and ordered to do community service work during an administrative hearing with WVU officials.

Even better news is that Waugh withdrew from school voluntarily. At least that's what WVU officials say. We hope that's true. We'll never know how much Waugh was pressured to withdraw, but we hope he felt some remorse for what he did and decided he and WVU would be better off without each other.

That remorse would be about the only good thing to come out of West Virginia's disgrace during the Sept. 19 WVU-Maryland game. And it was the Mountain State, not just WVU or its students, that was disgraced when golf balls and a whiskey bottle sailed onto the turf from the student sections of Mountaineer Field.

West Virginia has enough trouble with its image as backwards, backwoods state populated by rednecks, hillbillies and stumpjumpers. When a nationally televised football game in Morgantown has to be stopped numerous times because fans are throwing things on the field, that image is only reinforced.

University officials have taken action to prevent such incidents, and such damage to the school's and the state's image, from occurring again. WVU students will now have to reserve their game tickets in advance. No students will be allowed into Mountaineer Field on game day unless they have their students IDs and their advance tickets.

WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong also has said the student sections at Mountaineer Field may be moved -- presumably out of throwing distance -- if there are more incidents.

The Mountaineers aren't just West Virginia University's team. For many West Virginians, their the state's team. That means WVU officials have an obligation to protect not only the image of their school, but also the image of their state. We believe they understand that obligation. If only more WVU students did.

--Tim Langer