West Virginia University Athletics is going to sell the former White Day Golf Club in Fairmont it purchased two years ago for $1.25 million.
Officials said the decision was made because of financial constraints brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 96-acre site, which sits on Smithtown Road, was bought in winter 2018 for a $4-to-5 million practice facility for the WVU golf team. Plans called for a clubhouse, locker room, six indoor hitting bays, a driving range, a short game area, putting green, as well as a multiple practice green course to be built, on par with similar facilities in the Big 12. If constructed, the facility would not have been open to the public, WVU Athletics said.
“Plans were announced two years ago during the roll out of our Climbing Higher fundraising campaign, which included the golf facility along with efforts to raise funds for other athletic facilities on campus,” said Michael Fragale, a WVU Athletics spokesman, said in an email. “All funds for the campaign were to be, and still will be, privately raised.”
“Athletics intends to sell the (White Day) property and is working through the appropriate channels to identify interested parties.”
Fragale said the university is also exploring all options for developing a practice facility for its golf program. WVU’s golf team plays its home matches at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport.
“No official plans or agreements are currently in place with any golf course,” he said. “However, as with the purchase of the White Day Golf Course, the funds for any facility construction at White Day or any other site would be privately raised.”
Back in May, WVU Athletics announced a $5 million shortfall because of the COVID-19 pandemic and had its senior staff take pay cuts. WVU President Gordon Gee said last month the university was facing a budget shortfall of $10 million to $15 million for 2021 because of COVID-19.
In the spring, WVU was faced with a $30 million budget deficit brought on by the pandemic and its decision to go to online learning. It furloughed 800 employees — mostly staff members — to reduce expenses by $4 million and had senior administrators take salary reductions, or make financial donations to the university.
Because of the timing of the spring furloughs, university employees were able to take advantage of federal unemployment compensation. Workers were back to their jobs by July 31, when the federal program expired.