Gov. Manchin statement on Rodriguez leaving for Michigan

The last seven years that Rich Rodriguez has been football coach at West Virginia University brought great excitement to our fans and tremendous and positive notoriety to our state, and I am truly sad that he has made the decision to move on.

I have known Rich for most of his life, from a boy whose only wish was to play football at WVU to a young man whose only wish was to coach at WVU. His dreams came true, and he brought back with him to West Virginia a love and a loyalty for our state that I thought would never change.

But, unfortunately, over the last two years, I have seen Rich become a victim of a college coaching system driven by high-priced agents that has turned those dreams into just another back-room business deal. Something is wrong with the profession of college coaching today when a leader’s word is no longer his bond, and it does not bode well for the student-athletes who entrust these coaches with their futures.

I wish Rich and his family nothing but the best, but I challenge everyone in our state and across this country to start looking more closely at the system that we’ve allowed these agents to create, because in the end, it serves no one well but them.

I can’t say enough about the WVU fans and financial boosters who have made such tremendous commitments to this football team, and I commend President Garrison and Athletic Director Ed Pastilong for having a program that is truly worthy of the national spotlight.  I also trust them and the WVU Board of Governors completely with the coaching search that now lies ahead.

In the meantime, I encourage the people and fans of West Virginia to continue to show their support and respect for our tremendous student-athletes as they prepare to compete in front of a national audience in the Fiesta Bowl.  – Gov. Joe Manchin III

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