CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Wednesday, the Sun Belt Conference announced it is reinstating men’s soccer to the league.
This means for the first time in history, WVU and Marshall will go head-to-head in conference play.
WVU and Marshall are two of the nine teams listed on the Sun Belt schedule. Kentucky is also listed, along with South Carolina, James Madison, Old Dominion, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State.
The SBC did have men’s soccer before, from 1976-1995, and again from 2014-2020.
Starting this fall, it will be back again – and in a big way.
These nine teams have combined for more than 100 all-time NCAA tournament appearances, Marshall of course winning the national championship just two years ago.
Head coach Chris Grassie says he believes this is a fantastic thing for the entire state.
“Marshall…WVU…instate rivalry…big crowds,” said Grassie. “You know we’ve had great games since Strats has been there. I just think it’s a win, win. Even if you go back to 2019 before Strats joined them, we beat them in the NCAA Tournament here. So it’s just a great day. Great day for soccer fans, great for the state of West Virginia, and obviously great for Marshall and WVU. I just think it gives all of the soccer fans something to look forward to. And we do have passionate fanbases…very, very, passionate fanbases…so it gives them something else to sink their teeth into. Kind of help that brother-to-brother rivalry sort of going on, and to really get after it but in a friendly way.”
“It’s great,” said WVU head coach Dan Stratford. “I think it was always gonna be a long standing rivalry between us and Marshall regardless, given the nature of my relationship with Chris. But now, to have it in conference, and again just having potentially more bragging rights either way on conference tournaments and conference titles, will continue to promote the sport here in the state as well.”
Marshall and WVU will play each other in the second week of the regular season, on September 24th.