By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Editor
Newly-named West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck made it clear Monday that he was not coming “home” to WVU to fix anything.
Because nothing is broken.
Luck, a former Mountaineer record-setting quarterback, said he wanted to continue down the path established by Ed Pastilong, the man he is replacing.
And he will find that path clear, largely because of the efforts of Pastilong, who has been with WVU most of his adult life.
Pastilong has guided WVU through what many consider the continuing “golden era” of Mountaineer Athletics.
Recently, that was taken to a whole new level.
When the NCAA released its Academic Progress Rate (APR), WVU has a 968 average, a point higher than the average for Division I schools.
Four teams — men's basketball, women’s cross country and gymnastics and co-ed rifle — had perfect APR scores of 1000 for the 2008-09 academic year on which the current numbers are based. And last month, men’s basketball, women’s cross country and women’s soccer were recognized among the top 10 percent of Division I schools for their performance over the last four years.
In his typical style, Pastilong, who will serve as Director Emeritus for the next two years, deflected the praise.
“This is a real compliment to the coaches,” Pastilong said. “And especially (assistant athletic director) Garrett Ford. They put together a team of mentors, councilors and individuals to work with our over 500 student athletes. It’s a compliment to these people, our coaches and to our student-athletes.”
While he can lowball his own involvement, there can be little denying the obvious success Pastilong has had during his tenure.
He helped form the Big East football conference, and WVU has been one of the most dominant teams in the league.
Maybe his lasting impression, which will be felt for year’s, is the WVU athletic endowment, which has poured $30 million into the department.
“That has been a great thing for the university,” Pastilong allowed himself to say.
Exactly. And not for only today’s athletes, but those of tomorrow.
Perhaps it’s better to talk to those who work for Pastilong to get a good glimpse of the man.
“Eddie is a great person,” WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins said of the man who hired him. “He’s a great person to work for. Eddie lets you do your job. That’s the thing about him. He puts you in place and expects you to do your job.”
Huggins did that, taking his team to the Final Four this year.
Football coach Bill Stewart has known Pastilong since he was 16. His brother played for Pastilong at Salem.
“Ed is a man of integrity, a man of passion, a man who loves West Virginia University,” Stewart said. “I will always be in debt because he gave me a chance to have the best job in the world. Everything I do is for people like Eddie Pastilong. I never want to let him down.”
Big words from two men who are stars in their respective sports.
“I feel really good about the things we have accomplished,” Pastilong said. “But it’s always been about more than me. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people. And I feel we’ve done that.”