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Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Mountaineers hope upgrades will impress Rodriguez

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia plans to spend millions on its football facilities and hopes the improvements will help persuade coach Rich Rodriguez to stay with the Mountaineers.

Rodriguez met on Tuesday with Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who's looking for a new head coach.

"We want him to stay," West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said in a phone interview Wednesday. "He's the one that can make that call. We're hoping it continues."

Pastilong and Rodriguez met Wednesday in Morgantown to discuss several issues, including the Mountaineers' upcoming Toyota Gator Bowl appearance, but the Alabama job wasn't mentioned, Pastilong said.

Rodriguez and Moore talked informally Tuesday in New York, where they attended the College Football Hall of Fame banquet. Alabama is looking to replace Mike Shula, who was fired last month. The Tide are 6-6 and heading to the PetroSun Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State.

"There's no news today," Rodriguez said Wednesday as he left the Charleston Civic Center after attending the West Virginia-North Carolina State men's basketball game.

Rodriguez is 49-24 in six seasons at West Virginia. He said last week he planned on being at West Virginia the remainder of his career "if they'll have me." He is a West Virginia alum and former football player.

"We want to make sure Rich has the resources so that he can recruit well, so that his student-athletes can condition and train well, and we also want to have the facilities in place so that people who come to our games are comfortable," Pastilong said. "And we've been fortunate to be able to accommodate those situations."

In June, Rodriguez signed a seven-year contract that pays him $1 million this year with $50,000 annual raises after that. His base salary is $150,000. He'll also collect $600,000 in deferred compensation in December 2011 if he remains as coach.

The agreement included $125,000 more to pay assistant football coaches and plans to renovate the team's athletic building, the Milan Puskar Center. The renovation plans, including a study center and locker rooms, were contingent on support from private fundraisers, the university has said.

"There are some situations there that Rich would like improved and we're going to improve them," Pastilong said. "That project's going very good. It's on track and I'm pleased to say that will be done in the near future."

About half of the funds for the $2 million study center have been raised. Fundraising for the $4 million locker room renovations, which include a redesign and expansion, is just getting started, Pastilong said.

The university recently installed new turf in its indoor football facility and in October opened a 3,000-square-foot area dedicated to the history of Mountaineer football.

The turf at Milan Puskar Stadium, installed in 2002, will also be replaced next spring with a more updated version.

Also, about 350 club-level seats are being added to the stadium as "part of our expansion and opportunities to generate revenues to continue the facility improvement," he said.