Two excellent seasons in 2012 and 2013 were offset by a tough 2014 year for the women's swimming and diving team, leading to one of the larger gaps in our evaluation. Recent program history and the overcoming of substandard facilities were boosts in the eyes of some of our evaluators, while last year's fall and those some facilities (and the tough financial challenge to improve them), lead others to lower their rankings. Had our project occurred after last season, the program would surely have been ranked higher. Will head coach Vic Riggs be able to rebuild his squad and show that 2014 was just a one-year blip?
Greg Hunter: (14th) WVU's women have had some success in the pool over the years. Though they were fifth at the five-team Big 12 championship this spring, West Virginia did finish second at the league meet last year. In truth, though, is that everyone in the Big 12 is flailing at the dominant beast of Texas, which has nearly doubled the scores of the other conference competitors. WVU did feature the Big 12 women's swimmer of the year in 2013 in Rachel Burnett, but West Virginia last won a league title in 1995 in the Atlantic 10. And like the men, the women compete in a too-short pool that makes recruiting top swimmers difficult. WVU director of athletics Oliver Luck has said he would like to improve West Virginia's swim facilities but such a dream comes with a price tag that may approach $20 million, and even when the Big 12 TV dollars completely fill WVU's coffers, that's a significant investment for a sport that will never pay any financial return.
Matt Keller: (12th) In a bit of a surprise, women's swimming and diving sunk to new depths in 2013-14 with a distant last place finish in the Big 12 championships and zero NCAA qualifiers. This, just one year removed from a season in which it earned a a second-place conference finish and a solid 31st placing at the NCAAs.
Michael Carvelli: (12th) The women's swimming teams have had a lot of success as of late, with swimmers like Rachael Burnett leading the way. It's kind of amazing that they have been able to have the success they have with the lack of great facilities they have to work with. Once West Virginia gets a full-size pool in the Natatorium, things could start to get even better for Vic Riggs' team as he continues to prove each year why he's one of the most underrated coaches at WVU.
Kevin Kinder: (10th) WVU took a one-year nosedive last year, but as we're including recent history in our rankings along with a number of other factors, that not enough to downgrade the program too seriously. The Mountaineers have made lemonade out of lemons with a half-length home pool and a recruiting base that seemingly knows no bounds, ranging from Florida to Texas to Minnesota to New Jersey. Other than women's cross country, this might be the program that does more with less than any other Mountaineer squad.
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