West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck is leaving for an NCAA job, according to the Charleston Daily Mail's Mike Casazza. Casazza reports Luck will be "something of second-in-charge there to oversee NCAA reform."
[Update: The NCAA has confirmed, saying Luck will be the organization's vice president of regulatory affairs and tasked with "developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities." Its full release is below.]
Luck, the father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, has run WVU's athletic department since 2010, following a career mostly in pro sports. In that time, the school escaped the collapsing Big East for the Big 12. He's also the conference's only current member of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Luck has been widely considered a top candidate for athletic director jobs at Stanford and Texas over the last few years.
Luck has been vocal about the NCAA's need for reform, saying earlier this year, "It is high time for the NCAA to allow an institution to provide a more comprehensive scholarship to its student-athletes."
It's going to be hard as hell to replace him and not downgrade tremendously. WVU has its work cut out for it.— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) December 17, 2014
WVU's next athletic director will be hired in part by school president E. Gordon Gee, the former Ohio State president. One early candidate:
With Oliver Luck leaving, West Virginia announces that the interim athletic director will be Associate AD Perpetually Burning Couch— Fake Gimel (@fakegimel) December 17, 2014
From the NCAA:
The NCAA has hired Oliver Luck as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs, a new position that will bring the national office regulatory functions - academic and membership affairs, the Eligibility Center and enforcement - under one umbrella.
Luck, the director of athletics and associate vice president at West Virginia University, will begin at the NCAA national office early next year. He will report to NCAA President Mark Emmert, who created the role during a restructuring of his senior staff earlier this year.
"I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office," said Emmert. "He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I'm anxious for him to get started with us."
A search committee of representatives from NCAA member schools recommended Luck after conducting a national search. Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, chaired the committee.
"Oliver is a valued colleague and a good friend," said Bowlsby. "This is an excellent fit for the NCAA and for college athletics. Oliver is smart, analytical, energetic and insightful. While this is a big loss for WVU and the Big 12 it is a tremendous hire for our national association."
Luck will oversee the day-to-day operations in all NCAA regulatory functions. In particular, he will be charged with developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities.
"This is a time of fundamental change in intercollegiate athletics that will set the foundation for the years ahead," said Luck. "The challenges both internal and external to the NCAA present a unique opportunity to help shape the landscape for hundreds of thousands of young men and women. It is an honor to join President Emmert, the NCAA staff, and our member institutions in this journey. I look forward to partnering with campus executives, administrators, coaches and student-athletes, to enhance the intercollegiate athletics experience."
During his tenure at West Virginia as athletics director, Luck also served on the College Football Playoff selection committee and the Player Safety Advisory Panel for the National Football League. He will continue to serve on the American Campus Communities Board of Directors.
"Oliver is a great hire for President Emmert, the NCAA and everyone involved in collegiate athletics," said Greg Byrne, Arizona director of athletics and search committee member. "He understands the needs of universities, student-athletes and athletics departments. His experience working on campus will provide valuable insight for all of college athletics as it continues to evolve."
Prior to his position at West Virginia, Luck served as the first president and general manager for the Houston Dynamo, a Major League Soccer club. He also was the chief executive officer for the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, where he played an instrumental role in financing and oversight of Reliant Stadium and bringing the Houston Texans to the city. An NFL quarterback for the Houston Oilers from 1982 to 1986, Luck was a general manager and vice president for the league before serving as the president of NFL Europe for four years.
Luck graduated with honors from West Virginia University in 1982, where he played football, and earned a law degree from University of Texas, graduating cum laude in 1987. Luck and his wife Kathy have two sons and two daughters: Andrew, a former All-American quarterback, two-time Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford University and quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts; Mary Ellen, a former volleyball student-athlete and graduate of Stanford; Emily, who attends Stanford; and Addison, a soccer player at Morgantown High School.
"It has been a tremendous honor to serve my alma mater as director of athletics for the past four and a half years," said Luck. "As those who have spent time in West Virginia know, this is truly a special place. It's been an incredible experience for me to work with some of the best administrators, faculty, coaches, staff, student-athletes, fans, media, and alumni in the nation. As a member of the Big 12 Conference, the university is well-positioned for future success and I know that great things lie ahead for WVU. My wife Kathy and I will always cherish our time in Morgantown and we will forever be Mountaineers."