Luck takes position with NCAA, leaves WVU

Oliver Luck will be stepping down as West Virginia’s athletic director to take a position with the NCAA.

WVU announced the news Wednesday morning after it was reported initially by Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail.

“From his days as an outstanding student-athlete where he led us to great victories on the gridiron, to his service as a member of our Board of Governors, to his role in advancing our athletic programs and the life of the student-athlete, he has always embodied the Mountaineer spirit of perseverance and success,” said WVU president E. Gordon Gee in a statement. “Indeed, his leadership has changed the face of WVU athletics, and I thank him for his dedicated efforts.”

Luck’s position with the NCAA will be as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs, a new position created by NCAA president Mark Emmert to help the governing body’s move toward major reform in the coming years. In the new position, Luck is likely to be second in command behind Emmert at the NCAA.

“I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office,” Emmert said in a release from the NCAA. “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.”

Luck returned to his alma mater in 2010 when he was hired by former WVU president James P. Clements to replace Ed Pastilong. In the time he’s been at West Virginia since his hire, Luck was instrumental in major moves that have shaped the present and future well-being of the school’s athletic department.

During that time, he helped move West Virginia from the Big East Conference into the Big 12 – getting the Mountaineers a seat at the table in one of the Power 5 conferences. He was also instrumental in setting up the TIF bill that initiated the new $21 million baseball stadium project in Morgantown that will be home to the WVU baseball team, as well as the West Virginia Black Bears of the New York-Penn League, and is set to open in 2015.

He also helped continue to move forward with several plans for new and improved athletic facilities during his time at WVU, including the men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, a women’s soccer training complex and the new football team room which is currently under construction, while also boosting the overall revenue the athletic department brings in.

Luck also added WVU’s 18th varsity sport, men’s golf, which will begin play in 2015 and made other several key coaching hires during his time at WVU. He hired football head coach Dana Holgorsen, brought in Jill Kramer and Randy Mazey to coach the Mountaineer volleyball and baseball teams, respectively, and recently brought in Sammie Henson to revitalize the West Virginia wrestling program.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve my alma mater as director of athletics for the past four and a half years,” Luck said in a statement. “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, the University is well-positioned for future success and I know that great things lie ahead for WVU.

“This is a time of fundamental change in intercollegiate athletics that will set the foundation for the years ahead. 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.”

Kelli Cunningham, WVU’s executive senior associate athletic director, will immediately take over as the school’s interim AD.

“We plan to move swiftly to find the best fit in a new athletic director to lead our programs, coaches and student-athletes into a new era of Mountaineer athletics,” Gee said.

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