The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

June 10, 2010

Luck named WVU athletic director

President says he is ‘the clear choice’

MORGANTOWN — President James P. Clements today named former West Virginia University and NFL quarterback and Academic All-American Oliver Luck as West Virginia University’s director of intercollegiate athletics, effective July 1.

Luck, 50, president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo soccer franchise in Houston, Texas, will fill the position when Ed Pastilong retires on June 30. Pastilong will serve as Athletic Director Emeritus through 2012.

The two-time Academic All-American is a member of the Academic All American Hall of Fame and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. He was also a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, graduating from WVU magna cum laude in 1982 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

“Oliver Luck is someone who has succeeded at the highest of levels at everything he has done – from his college and professional football playing days to his academic pursuits and his professional business career,” said President Clements. “He is the clear choice to carry forward what has truly been a golden era in athletics. I am thrilled to welcome Oliver back to West Virginia and WVU, and I am confident that he will do an outstanding job.”

“It is truly an honor to be selected to serve my alma mater as athletic director, and to succeed such a fine gentleman as Ed Pastilong, who has served WVU so well for so many years,” Luck said. “My passion and love for West Virginia University has never wavered, and to return to a school that has built a solid foundation in academics and athletics over the last two decades is exciting.

“And while it’s a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics with discussions on conference realignments and other issues, I look forward to working with the University administration, athletic staff and coaches and others to remain a successful, attractive and fiscally responsible intercollegiate athletic program,” he said.

“WVU is truly one of the outstanding land-grant universities in the country, and I am so pleased to be a part of its momentum and growth," he said. "This is a tremendous opportunity  -- a chance to return to a University and a state that I love at a dynamic and strategic time in its history. I want to thank President Clements and the screening committee for their confidence in me.”

Luck assumes the position at a time when the University is engaged in a long-term strategic planning process, which Clements has said is “an ideal time” to lead the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics into the next chapter in WVU’s history.

Screening Committee Chair Dr. Sam Ameri said he was impressed with Luck’s academic background and his emphasis on academics. “Oliver Luck truly believes in the mission of this University – teaching, research and service – areas so important to the faculty, staff, students and our state citizens,” he said.

“I also like his focus on our student-athletes and graduates being ambassadors for WVU and representing themselves in a way that the image of the University is enhanced,” he added.

A formal welcome celebration and news conference with Mr. Luck is expected to be held Monday, June 14. More details will follow.

Luck’s Background

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1978-1981, setting school records for touchdown passes and completions, and leading the team to a Peach Bowl victory over Florida as a senior. He ended his career as a three-year starter with school records of 43 career touchdown passes and 466 completions out of 911 passing attempts. His 5,765 career passing yards ranks him fourth on the school’s all-time passing list. He was named MVP in 1980 and 1981, and also earned the 1981 Louis D. Meisel Award for the WVU scholar athlete with the highest grade-point average. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

In 1982, he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Houston Oilers, and either started or played back-up quarterback through the 1986 season. During that time, he earned his law degree from the University of Texas cum laude.

After retiring from football, Luck became vice president of business development for the National Football League and President and CEO of NFL Europe.

In 2001, he became chief executive officer of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, overseeing the development and management of over $1 billion of professional sports and entertainment venues in Houston: Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros; Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo; and the Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets.

He became president of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamos in 2005, and the team won two MLS Cup championships in his first two years in the position.

He is married to the former Kathy Wilson. They have four children: Andrew, the starting quarterback at Stanford; Mary Ellen, an incoming freshman volleyball player at Stanford; daughter Emily, an incoming high school junior; and 7th grade son, Addison.

Luck, who was appointed to the WVU Board of Governors by Gov. Joe Manchin in 2008, resigned his Board position this week. (Contract information will be available in the near future.)

Clements thanked the screening committee for its careful and thoughtful review of the applicants and insight into the process that helped him with his decision.

“I appreciate the hard work and diligence of the screening committee,” Clements said. “There were many outstanding candidates in this national search. I am confident we’ve found the ideal person to lead this department to even greater success.”

WVU Athletic Achievements

Luck will lead a strong, healthy athletic department.

Over the past two decades, more than $85 million in facility renovations have taken place within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, including many at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, making WVU’s football facility among the nation’s best. Suites on three sides of the stadium were added, along with club seating, an indoor practice facility, new locker rooms, an academic center and hall of traditions.

Other improvements include a new soccer stadium and women’s soccer training facility, gymnastics and wrestling facilities, and renovations to the Coliseum and Hawley Field.

The department’s budget has also grown from $20 million to more than $59 million over the past two decades, and WVU joined the BIG EAST football conference in 1991 and became a full-fledged member in 1995.

A growing endowment fund and an academic honor roll were also established, along with a sports hall of fame.

In addition, WVU has finished in the Top 50 in the Director’s Cup standings two out of the last three years; WVU is currently ranked No. 15.

In the latest Academic Progress Report, WVU’s combined varsity athletic teams have an APR score of 968 according to data just released by the NCAA. The APR is based upon eligibility and retention of student-athletes over a four-year period. The NCAA uses the APR as an assessment of real-time academic success.

WVU’s average APR score of 968 is up four points from last year’s average and up 12 points from two years ago. WVU’s score of 968 is higher than the NCAA’s overall four-year APR average score of 967.

For the 2008-09 academic year, West Virginia had four teams with perfect 1,000 scores: men’s basketball, cross country, gymnastics and rifle.

Men’s basketball won the Big East Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Final Four championship this year. The team has played in the NCAA tournament five of the last six years.

The women’s basketball team has participated in post season play in five of the last six years. Guard Liz Repella was named to ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All –America Women’s Basketball first team.

The football team has gone to a school-record eight-straight bowl games and has the eighth-best record in college football from 2005-2009. It was recently recognized by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating 75 percent or more of their student-athletes. This year’s senior class had a 100 percent graduation rate.

Linebacker Reed Williams was the program’s sixth National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete (Luck also earned the same honor) and third Big East football Scholar–Athlete of the Year.

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