Gordon Gee

WVU Bow Ties

It starts at the top

Gordon Gee

WVU President Gordon Gee (Source: Wikimedia Commons by Joebengo)

West Virginia University (WVU) President Gordon Gee is well known as a bow tie aficionado.

In fact, while prexy at Ohio State University (OSU) he got into a little bit of trouble. Zack Harold of the Charlestown Daily Mail reported that has about a thousand “active” ties with another thousand “retired” ones, and while at Ohio State the Daily Dayton News reported that the school spent $64,000 on bow ties and related items over just a few years, which it found rather excessive.

The Charlestown Daily Mail and Daily Dayton News are far from the only two news outlets fascinated by Gee’s signature neckwear. When the New York Times asked him about his sartorial statement, he quipped that it was tied to it promotes both survival and job security when he said:

Q. Speaking of image, what’s with the bow tie? You always wear one. You pass out bow tie cookies and pins.

It’s much more difficult to be hung by the faculty with a bow tie than with a long tie.

Needless to say, Gee has influenced fashion in West Virginia. This is the case at other campuses where the president is a noted bow tie wearer. For instance, R. Bowen Loftin has inspired community members of both the Texas A & M and University of Missouri (aka “Mizzou”) where he has presided.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins wearing a bow tie

WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins wearing a bow tie (source: Couchburner on Facebook)

Apparently, Gee isn’t the only dude at WVU who has a flair for sartorial statements. During the October 2014 Big 12 Conference Media Day in Kansas City, MO, men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins (who is known as “Huggs” and “Huggy Bear” by some) sported a WVU bow tie. Many members of the media — including the Charleston Daily Mail‘s Mike Casazza — noticed.

However, this in itself wasn’t too surprising since sports journalists are accustomed to athletes, coaches, team owners, and each other wearing bold outfits. In 2013 Huggins wore a dapper and smart looking dark blue cardigan with a gold Flying WV (school colors, by the way) to that year’s media day.

When grilled about his dark blue three-piece suit ensemble topped off with a WVU bow tie this year, Casazza reports that he responded by stating:

‘A tribute to our president,’ Huggins said, referencing E. Gordon Gee, who wears a bow tie to his job like Huggins wears a pullover to his. ‘It just kind of seemed like the right thing to do. And I’d kind of like to keep you guessing. I don’t want people to think they’ve figured me out yet.

‘I appreciate you being concerned about my wardrobe, though.’

Emulating one’s boss seems like a smart strategy, if its done in a flattering way. Although Thayer Evans at the New York Times points out Huggy Bear’s reputation roller coaster, the Bob Huggins Wikipedia article, as of October 2014, states: “His 690–251 record (.733) during his 28 seasons as a head coach (as of 2010) ranks him eighth in winning percentage and fourth in victories among active Division I coaches. He is one of only 4 active Division I coaches with 700 or more career victories.”

When it comes to sport stats, Coach Huggins is a winner, and President Gee has reason to take this sartorial emulation as a compliment.

With two of the biggest — when it comes to influence and authority — guys on the WVU campus sporting bow ties, it makes one wonder how many other people will start wearing them, too. Time will tell.

Buying a WVU bow tie

If you want to show some Mountaineer pride, Monica Maria‘s eBay store is one of many places you can get some great neckwear. By the way, I chose to spotlight Monica since she offers self-tie options, and it is important to tie your own ties.