Apparently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a strange understanding of “limited government.”
As sports fans know, the nation’s college athletic programs are playing a high-stakes game of musical chairs at the moment, forcing universities to scramble to make sure they have a conference to play in. West Virginia University, for example, this week thought it had nailed down membership in the powerful Big 12 conference, with a media announcement scheduled for today.
That announcement has been canceled, thanks to McConnell. The Kentucky senator reportedly made a phone call or two, and before you knew it the Big 12 started thinking that inviting West Virginia to join their conference would be a big mistake. Instead, the conference may now extend that offer to the University of Louisville.
McConnell (University of Louisville, class of ‘64) isn’t talking. But Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia University, class of ‘70) is making up for it.
“If these outrageous reports have any merit – and especially if a United States senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made – then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get the truth,” Manchin said.
West Virginia’s other senator, Jay Rockefeller, has also gotten involved. “The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that,” Rockefeller said. “That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”
Rockefeller is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over college athletics. All in all, it looks as though West Virginia and Kentucky may be headed for a border feud the likes of which ain’t been seen since the days of the Hatfields and McCoys.
Pass the popcorn, please.
– Jay Bookman