How did this website get started? The following is an original column written about Greg Van Zant, initially sent to The Dominion Post for publication, but they refused to print it. Their refusal to print the article made it live in infamy online, where it is now visited daily. If you can play baseball and have a choice, the message is clear: you should not play for Greg Van Zant.
   
Since this is about the time each year that the Dominion Post runs the WVU Baseball preview article, I’d like to give a true depiction of WVU Baseball. Let a former player tell you the pros and cons of the baseball program. The pros won’t take long:  The lights at Hawley Field are truly some of the best in the nation. When I was recruited by WVU, I was told these are the best lights in the east, but in fact they are the best lights under which we ever played, nationwide—all other colleges and minor league stadiums didn’t compare.
 
That’s it for the pros, but the cons will take some time.
 
Your annual WVU Baseball preview usually depicts Greg Van Zant as being WVU Baseball, the two terms interchangeable. The preview also usually describes Van Zant as a baseball genius, gaining respect from Division I coaches all over the country. That’s your story. Here’s the real one.
 
I played at WVU for two and a half years, and I heard every player say “worst coach in America” at some point. A baseball genius? This is a coach who bats his catcher—against the catcher’s own judgment—in the leadoff spot; a coach who tries a different lineup every game in hopes of finding the lineup “that clicks” instead of using a traditional lineup that would give the team its best chance to win every day; a coach who says he “just lets the kids go out and play,” yet he yells every pitch, sometimes to change a player’s position on the field by just a couple feet. His need to control every player’s every action is the sole reason players hate him. He’s always over-coaching and outthinking common-sense baseball.
 
Baseball genius?  He wouldn’t recognize talent if he saw A-Rod play. He makes his team leader in slugging percentage bunt every at-bat, and sparsely plays the best talent I have ever played with—first pick of the fifth round in the 2000 draft Jim Kevorias—because… well you should ask Van Zant, because no one else would know. Kevorias is among the many examples of Van Zant’s high turnover rate. Few players stay four years, and those who complete the four years do so for education reasons only.
 
Coaches leave just as often. Ever wonder why there isn’t a pitching or hitting coach?  Van Zant insists on teaching both, although he never pitched, and even though he had a great baseball mind in assistant coach Mike Hampton—a very successful minor league hitter—sitting on his bench. (Hampton left after the 2001 season.)  The best coach in the state of West Virginia, Doug Little, left WVU, and made Potomac State a baseball powerhouse in just one year. Little deserves, and gets, a tremendous amount of respect. (Adding credibility to this column, Mike Hampton left shortly after it was written.)
 
Van Zant gets very little respect. His own assistant coaches and players, opposing coaches and players, umpires, fans and the press box all laugh at his coaching style. It’s one thing to make an occasional poor coaching decision, but when your entire coaching philosophy is one bad decision, it easily gets noticed. This is a coach who bunts in the bottom of the eighth inning—with a five-run lead!!  Baseball common sense tells you that five-run leads are what coaches strive to have, so you can swing away and increase the lead even more. No common sense at WVU. And at the Virginia Tech doubleheader in 2000, WVU managed a two-run lead in both games, and in both games Van Zant thought the bunt was then in order for a few innings, even though the Mountaineer hitters were dominating the Hokies’ pitchers. So WVU wasted outs for those innings until Virginia Tech had one good inning to win the games. This is a typical example of his over-coaching WVU into losses.
 
Van Zant scoffs at the people—especially fans—who have better baseball sense than he, and he makes decisions, it seems, just to spite them. Our fans yelled and Rutgers players laughed as the double steal in the ninth inning cost WVU the game, which was preceded by Van Zant putting the fastest Mountaineer in the game as a pinch runner at first base, while leaving the slowest runner on the team at second. I played in summer leagues where coaches constantly harassed me about the decisions and techniques of Van Zant. In fact, since the 2001 season has ended, I have talked with several other Division-I coaches who laugh at the sound of the name “Van Zant.” One said, “Can you believe he had six players drafted and could barely finish .500?  He’s the only coach bad enough to accomplish that!”
 
Respect? How do you respect a coach who refuses to pay for players’ meals because they went to Easter Church Services? Isn’t that religious discrimination? Coach Mike Kryzewski said in an interview three years ago, “Coaching isn’t about winning, it’s about personal relationships.”  Van Zant certainly doesn’t live by this philosophy—he didn’t even grant exit interviews to his seniors, probably because he didn’t want to hear what I am writing now. It is widely known that he hopes his players don’t get drafted before their eligibility is finished, because he feels he has wasted money recruiting if that player leaves early. So he only cares about his gains, and not theirs. How do you respect that?
 
I played two and a half years, the half-year because I quit (I quit after the half season and came back for two more -- what a mistake!). I never said the word “quit” in association with baseball until I came to WVU, but at WVU players learn to hate the coach, hate the game. I’m the only one writing, but this entire letter shares the opinions many people too scared to print the facts. I care. I don’t think anyone should ever want to play at WVU.
 
I played baseball every spring and summer of my life, ending with last spring’s stint at WVU. I won championships at all levels, on teams with much less talent than I ever played with at WVU. The difference is this—on every other team I played for, the coach relied on his players’ instincts and abilities. At WVU, players are not allowed to play using their instincts; they are supposed to play like little GVZ robots. Players are not allowed to think for themselves.

You are accurate in that Greg Van Zant is WVU Baseball, which probably explains its rise to mediocrity. WVU baseball is a joke with one exception: Those sure are nice lights.