While fervently hoping that the crush of “news” reports about the Brad-Angelina relationship and pending baby will subside — and fully knowing they won’t — I offer you:

WVU Tech dropped a bombshell last week with the announcement that it has asked the NAIA to once again consider it for membership.

While not having a lot of time to analyze where competing in the NAIA will leave Tech athletics, I do know — like many others — that it will mean the departure of many of the strong athletic rivalries the school has nurtured in the West Virginia Conference over the past eight decades. Unless, of course, some of those schools, like Tech, decide that the NCAA Division II experiment isn’t working and make the same move. And it’s a big shame that games such as Tech versus State or Tech versus UC or Tech versus Concord will go the way of the mid-range jump shot or relying on a strong inside game.

Obviously, depending on whether the school aligns itself with a conference, and where that conference is, a big concern is the travel required to face some of the out-of-state schools Tech will have to play. Granted, some NAIA schools further south can be reached just as easily and quickly as West Liberty or Shepherd, but you just wonder how much more the teams will be traveling in the overall scheme of things.

Although the timing of the announcement may have caught a lot of people off-guard, it was a move I felt several years would eventually happen given the way things have unfolded in the Tech athletic department the past decade.

I just hope that it does allow the school to recruit more student-athletes, become more competitive on the playing fields, and not have to break the bank to do it. Tech — and Montgomery — needs some good news.

As the new year starts, our hopes and prayers go out to folks such as Montgomery Mayor Melba Lou White and Willie Marshall, a veteran assistant coach with the Fayetteville Pirates football team.

Both have been undergoing treatment for cancer, and both need your prayers.

I’ve always admired Coach Marshall for his beliefs and for his dedication to the success of student-athletes on the football field, in the shot put or discus ring, or in the game of life.

A man of huge faith, Marshall has been active in numerous church-related activities over the years, and at least one local pastor is putting his faith in God to see Marshall through his trials.

In an e-mail, the Rev. Ron George, Jr., pastor of the Fayetteville Baptist Church, called Marshall “a brother in Christ who is in need.” He asked prayer for Marshall and his wife while Willie undergoes daily radiation and chemotherapy at Duke University.

George also asked for anyone willing to help Marshall with living expenses while in Durham. If you want to help, contact the pastor at www.fayettevillebaptist.org, or find such good local individuals as Jeannie Ayers, Kathy Arritt or Terry Sizemore to forward a donation.

We’re thinking about you, Coach.

— E-mail: skeenan@fayettetribune.com

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