Entire Texas Tech chess team checks out
The whole one-and-done controversy in college basketball has nothing on the collegiate chess world.
The entire, two-time national champion Texas Tech chess team is transferring en masse to a small, private university in St. Louis.
The seven chess grandmasters are following their highly-regarded coach, Susan Polgar, to Webster University.
Although Webster has just 9,400 students on its home campus compared to Texas Tech's 30,000, the promise of greater funding for the chess program attracted Polgar and her team.
"The program grew rapidly, and Texas Tech wasn't ready to grow with the speed of the program," Polgar told The Associated Press. "St. Louis today is the center of chess in America. It just seemed like a perfect fit."
St. Louis is home to the World Chess Hall of Fame and the U.S. national championships. It also boasts the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, where the chess elite can hone their craft.
Texas Tech won its second President's Cup, the chess equivalent of basketball's Final Four, on April 1 in Herndon, Va. The Knight Raiders, as the team is called, edged rival juggernauts from the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Despite the program's success, following Polgar to Webster "was a very easy decision," freshman Georg Meier told the AP. "When the program decided to move to St. Louis, I didn't have to think twice."
Texas Tech hired Polgar, a four-time women's world champion, five years ago to get the chess program on the fast track. School spokesman Chris Cook said Tech plans to continue the program despite the loss of its all-star roster.
"What these kids have done in the short time they've been here is amazing," Cook said to the AP. "They've put us in some niches where we haven't been before. They've put us in some countries where we haven't been before."
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire