The Return of Oliver Luck

Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons has been mentioned as a potential replacement for ACC Commissioner John Swofford, who will retire after 24 years on the job.

Whoever replaces Swofford will have big shoes to fill.  He’s the longest-tenured commissioner in conference history and has accomplished a lot during his time as the head of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Shane Lyons could be one of the favorites to replace Swofford.  In the article titled “Who will replace Swofford?  Here are some names to watch”, Lyons is one of the first and most prominent names mentioned.  “Another Swofford hire, Lyons worked at the ACC from 2001 to 2011 as Associate Commissioner for Governance and Compliance.  He’s been the Athletic Director at West Virginia University since 2015, and spent the previous four years as Alabama’s Deputy Athletic Director.  Lyons also chairs the NCAA Division I football oversight committee.”

Lyons is accomplished, has a history with the ACC, and was hired by the John Swofford, the current Commissioner and someone the conference will undoubtedly lean on for guidance in selecting the new Commissioner.

Even if Lyons isn’t interested or ultimately doesn’t get selected, he is a hot commodity in the world of football, and it’s unrealistic to think that he’ll be at West Virginia University for the rest of his career.

With that said, whether it’s this year or in a few years, West Virginia will likely be searching for a new Athletic Director to replace Lyons.  While there are many outstanding Athletic Directors around the country that would be interested in taking over as the Athletic Director at WVU, none are more accomplished or experienced than former West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck.

Luck, a three-year starter at quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1978-1981, was the Athletic Director at WVU from 2010-2014.  Although he missed badly with his handling of the Bill Stewart retirement and subsequent hiring of Dana Holgorsen, Luck has the experience and connections to make him a really, really solid re-hire if Lyons moves on.

During his four years in Morgantown, Luck made sweeping and important changes for the West Virginia Athletics Department.  West Virginia’s move from the Big East to the Big 12 was perhaps his shining moment, a move that may not have happened without him.  In addition, he hired Randy Mazey as the Head Coach of the West Virginia baseball team, was responsible for the funding of the beautiful Monongalia County Ballpark (home of the Mountaineer baseball team), signed a multi-media rights deal with IMG for $86 million over 12 years, and instituted beer sales at the football stadium.

Although controversial at times, Luck proved that he was not afraid to make big moves.  His connections and experience in college football would be huge for the Mountaineers.  Not only was he the Athletic Director for West Virginia University, he was also the NFL Europe President and the General Manager of the Houston Dynamo (a Major League Soccer team) prior to his stint in Morgantown, he was also the Executive Vice president for Regulatory Affairs for the NCAA and the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the now-defunct XFL.

Luck, one of the most connected and experienced people in football, is now looking for employment.  If Lyons leaves for the ACC, West Virginia would be crazy not to approach Oliver Luck for a return to the Mountain State.