By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Dr. James P. Clements, in his first year as West Virginia University president, obviously wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
That’s the chief reason former Academic All-America quarterback Oliver Luck has accepted the position of athletic director at his alma mater.
Luck, who had indicated a week earlier that he still couldn’t take the position, said Thursday on a WVU media teleconference with Clements that he had accepted when offered the job Wednesday afternoon.
“No, we found the right person to lead the athletics program and we knew he would be a great fit and do great things for the university and the state. So, as Oliver said, I’m a pretty good recruiter.”
That might well be, but it took several weeks of pursuit, reportedly with Gov. Joe Manchin’s urging and an annual salary of $390,000.
Ed Pastilong, who retires officially on June 30 after 21 years, has a current salary of $238,000 a year. He is going to help with the transition for two years as athletic director emeritus.
Ironically, Pastilong, then football recruiting coordinator, and Gary Stevens recruited Luck out of a Cleveland high school in 1978, and the two have been friends ever since.
You might say this was a tailor-made position for Luck to accept. He will be spending considerable time in Houston during the first six months of his employment.
So Clements and Pastilong, as well as their staffs, will make sure things are rolling along smoothly when he is not here.
Pastilong said he’s very pleased that Luck is succeeding him. “I have the utmost confidence in Oliver. I know he’ll do a great job.”
The two talked via telephone on Thursday morning.
Clements and Luck, who is 50, talked a lot about both being “family men.” Each has four children.
Luck’s oldest son, Andrew, is a junior quarterback at Stanford this year.
“He’s much better than I was,” Oliver said. “Much better.
“No, he’s not part of the deal, but he’s been at WVU games and he wished his old man good luck (in his new job).”
Luck said he plans to be in Morgantown soon “for at least four days.” But he needs to complete some unfinished business in Houston.
A new stadium for the city’s soccer team is being built and he has been president and general manager of the champion Dynamos franchise in the World Soccer League.
Luck, a Rhodes Scholar finalist in 1981, spent some 10 years in Europe directing National Football League interest over there. He played six years for Houston in the NFL as a second-round draft choice.
With all the talk about conference expansions, Luck certainly faces perhaps the greatest ever challenges in athletics, but he said he relishes the challenges.
I couldn’t be happier that he was talked to at length to take over WVU’s athletic reins.
As far as taking a lot of time in the so-called national search, Clements said, “I think there were some things he needed to think through and I’m just thrilled that we reached an unbelievable and positive outcome.”