Like al Spring sports, WVU golf’s season came to an abrupt end when the NCAA announced the cancelation of all Winter and Spring championships on March 13.
Head coach Sean Covich said he could basically see the golf season ending in slow motion as events such as March Madness were being canceled in previous days. Covich said the day was especially weird considering it was his 40th birthday.
A few weeks later the NCAA announced that it would give all Spring athletes an extra year of eligibility and allow would-be seniors to return for one extra season. The golf team has two such seniors, Philip Matlari and Etienne Papineau. Covich said he would love to have both come back if possible.
“I would love for those two guys to come back,” Covich said. “Whether it works out or not, I don’t know. We’re still working through that.”
The main reason why returning for an extra season can be a hard decision is having to spend an entire extra year in college.
“They sort of made life plans based on they’re going to graduate in May, try to turn professional,” Covich said. “Philip lives in Germany, Etienne in Montreal, so it’s just not as easy as it sounds. … There’s a lot of decisions to be made, but I do want those guys to come back.”
The NCAA will allow teams additional roster spots and will help fund any additional scholarships that are needed for seniors that choose to return. Since WVU only has eight golfers, however, this becomes less of a problem for Covich.
“We’ve found that our formula works best here is we have eight or nine guys.”
Golf teams that have 10 or more golfers could be in trouble down the road if players use their extra year and recruits keep coming in.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces and I think it is an advantage that we only have eight on the roster because we can absorb some guys staying around,” Covich said. “If we had 12 and then had already committed three guys coming in and had some commits for 2021 we’d be in a lot of trouble.”
Covich restarted WVU’s golf program after begin hired in 2014 and had the team within two strokes of making the national tournament last season.