Jim Justice Faces Criticism From Senate for MU Baseball Field Fund

Conner Woodruff, Managing Editor

Senators have challenged West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s decision to use nearly half of $28 million of COVID-19 relief funds for Marshall University’s new baseball field.

These concerns were brought up in a West Virginia Senate panel last week, where senators questioned Justice’s authority regarding his handling of the leftover CARES act funds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intention of the CARES act is to provide support to those affected during the COVD-19 pandemic by allocating federal funds, giving tax breaks and offering other forms of financial support.

“I’m trying to wrap my head around or get a logical explanation how a baseball field would fall under Covid funds,” Sen. Randy Smith (R-Tucker) said during Friday’s hearing.

The panel agreed to reach out to the Treasury Office of Inspector General to review Justice’s transfer of the $28,375,985.

Justice responded stating that the money provided by the federal CARES act needed to be spent by a certain deadline.

The governor contributed $13.8 million of CARES act funds to the construction of Marshall University’s long-awaited baseball stadium, which he presented as a gift from the state.

“This has been a long time coming, and I am so proud to play a small part in getting this project across the finish line,” Justice said while presenting his contribution last September. “They’ve been talking about building a baseball stadium since I was a brown-haired kid playing golf at Marshall back in the 70s. Finally, it’s going to happen, and this community can get the monkey off its back.”

The baseball stadium has been a long-in-development project for Marshall University, with several hiccups in funding stalling the construction plans since the 1970s.

“For more than six decades this dream has been worked on by many people,” Marshall University President Brad Smith said at the event in September where Justice presented the $13.8 million.

Without a proper baseball field, the Marshall University Baseball Team currently has to practice in other university facilities.