CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s Mountaineer Athletic Club is hoping to build off a positive year for WVU athletics with their annual scholarship dinners on their statewide tour.

Several WVU head coaches, student-athletes and alumni were in attendance for the annual Charleston Scholarship Dinner Monday evening at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. In 2023, the Charleston Scholarship Dinner raised over $55,000 towards the MAC Charleston Scholarship Dinner Athletic Endowment.

Wren Baker

WVU Athletic Director Wren Baker said being in the capital city is always an exciting time and this was no exception.

“This is such an awesome event and we have such passionate fans in Charleston,” Baker said.

Around 500 people filled up the convention center with blue and gold for the dinner. There were also speeches given as the night went on including one from former WVU men’s basketball coach John Beilein.

Over the course of the next few weeks, WVU officials and coaches will be making stops in Wheeling, Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Glade Springs. Baker said new this year will be stops in Washington, D.C. and Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We’ll see a lot of Mountaineer fans near and far,” Baker said. “It’s really a great time to be a Mountaineer.”

Baker spoke highly of some of the successful athletic teams from last year including the football team. Neal Brown was one of several coaches also in attendance. Baker said he’s expecting a great turnout for the WVU Gold and Blue Spring Football Game coming up Saturday, April 27.

“I think the spring game attendance is going to be way up this year so we’re excited about getting everybody up to Morgantown,” he said.

Neal Brown

Coach Brown is excited about the upcoming season too and was happy to see such a big turnout for the Charleston Scholarship Dinner.

“It’s a community full of Mountaineers, there’s no question about it” Brown said about the city of Charleston. “Anytime we can come down here and spread the gospel about what we’re doing within the football program, we try to take advantage of it.”

There’s a lot of good energy surrounding the team, according to Brown. WVU will have seven home games this season at Milan Pushkar Stadium. The season opener is August 31 against Penn State, who the Mountaineers opened the season with in 2023.

Brown described the mentality of WVU fans heading into the season as being “all in.”

“It matters and you want to coach and play at a place where it matters and it matters to the people of West Virginia,” said Brown.

Neal Brown has been head coach of the football team since 2019. He’s going to be spending a lot more time over the next couple of weeks with new men’s basketball coach Darien DeVries, who was in Charleston for the first time Monday.

Darian DeVries

DeVries has already been busy trying to put together a staff and a roster of players ever since being hired on in March. He previously spent six seasons as the head coach of Drake University. Since then, it’s been a nonstop effort to create a team, but Monday was a quick break from all of that for DeVries and a chance to put more names with faces.

“I haven’t had a lot of time to get out and about so this was great to meet a lot of people,” DeVries said.

“The people here are so supportive and I’m excited about engraving myself more into the community,” he added.

Much like Brown, WVU women’s basketball coach Mark Kellogg is trying to build on the momentum that his team picked up last season.

“I feel like we’re in a much better spot now than we were a year ago and I’m just really excited about what’s to come,” Kellogg said.

In his first year in Morgantown, Kellogg’s club went 25-8 and booked a trip to the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The team isn’t losing much to the transfer portal and a lot of their core players are returning. This past season, the team also had one of the best attendance marks they’ve ever had.

Mark Kellogg

“There is momentum in the program and we just have to capitalize on it and take it to a whole new level,” said Kellogg.