CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia baseball team's new beginning won't wait until the 2013 season, the school's first in the Big 12 Conference.
Athletic Director Oliver Luck gave Coach Greg Van Zant the authority to award the NCAA maximum of 11.7 scholarships for this season.
"We've never had the full 11.7 before," said Van Zant, whose team played Morehead State at Appalachian Power Park on Tuesday night. "We came into the Big East in 1996 and we've had some pretty successful seasons and some really good players, but we've been operating on about 75 percent of the scholarships we're allowed.
"Even in the Big East, which is still a pretty good conference, there's no way you can regularly compete. If everything goes well you can do well, but if you've got injured players of if guys don't pan out, all of a sudden you're in a big bind."
The scholarship shortage and the lack of depth is stinging the Mountaineers this season. WVU lost its top starting pitcher and hitter to injury. A starting catcher and a power hitter has been suspended.
His backup, a junior college All-American part of the most recent recruiting class, withdrew from school after a concussion and side effects. Van Zant has one senior on his team and is starting four or five freshmen and running others out to the mound.
"Imagine the football team playing in the Big East with 65 scholarships instead of the full 85," said Van Zant, who said his team has typically been permitted to award between 8 and 9 scholarships.
Van Vant, who in 18 seasons has won 516 games, a Big East regular-season and tournament title and two Big East Coach of the Year awards, has nevertheless had players.
Fifty have been drafted or signed minor league contracts. Six Mountaineers were All-Americans. He's coached two conference rookies of the year, one conference pitcher of the year and one conference player of the year.
Fifty-four were all-conference players, one was a first-round pick, two were second-round picks and three made the Majors.
And he's never played with a full deck.
WVU, Villanova, Georgetown and Pitt had been the only teams without the full allotment. WVU and the other eight future Big 12 schools - Iowa State doesn't play baseball -have the full complement.