MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Some years ago, West Virginia University came up with a pretty good idea to help athletes with academics.
It was the Athletic Mentor Program, and in its most recent form 17 part-time employees worked with about 50 student-athletes.
Now it is no more.
The operation was suspended in November and discontinued last month.
Garrett Ford, the associate athletic director for academics who oversaw the mentor program, also announced his retirement last month, and some see a link between the two events.
It's convenient to buy into conspiracy theories, especially given the way things have transpired behind the scenes recently.
However, the mentor program was troubled and not nearly as effective or accountable as it was intended to be.
The idea was developed when Rich Rodriguez was WVU's football coach. The school studied the model at the University of Kentucky and decided to hire retired educators.
For up to 19 hours a week, they served as what amounted to classroom coaches for the players. Some worked out of the Coliseum. Most were stationed at the football team's Puskar Center.
It was a sound idea and had so much to do with the recognition WVU would receive through the years for academic achievements across all sports.
But it began to sputter and issues eventually drew the scrutiny of new WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck as part of his rolling audit and evaluation of everything in the athletic department.
There were complaints from and about the mentors in the Puskar Center, from when and how they spent their hours to whom they were mentoring. Some thought the mentors, their requests and their feedback weren't taken seriously enough. Others thought the mentors themselves weren't taking things seriously enough.
Over time some mentors seemed to become more concerned about the quality of the players they were mentoring than the quality of the work they were doing together. Believe it or not, there was pettiness over who was assigned to mentor important players.
The grumbling grew.