Speculation has been swirling the last few weeks regarding West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck’s future in Morgantown.
In fact, it’s already been reported from multiple sources that Luck, WVU’s AD since 2010, will indeed interview for the same position at the University of Texas fairly imminently. Bluegoldsports.com has gone even further and claimed that “the feeling at Texas” is that Luck would accept the position if offered.
Unfortunately, some West Virginia supporters are misguided enough to think that West Virginia would actually benefit from this in some way.
If anything, Luck has been one of WVU’s most visionary administrators by cultivating a clear and promising path for West Virginia athletics for many years to come.
Sure the Mountaineers have woefully under-performed in both football and basketball since WVU’s dash from the former Big East – probably Luck’s most notable contribution as the school’s AD – but honestly, who in their right mind actually blames the athletic director for players not executing on the court or field.
Would these same WVU “fans” rather have gone down with the ship that was the former Big East?
Would they prefer spending their fall Saturdays welcoming the likes of SMU, the University of Houston and UCF to Morgantown, instead of storied, ranked programs like Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas? Watching the WVU basketball team compete against Rutgers or Temple, instead of a major powerhouse like Kansas?
Again, obviously the Mountaineers have not yet achieved any real measurable success in the nation’s most popular collegiate sports since their transition to the Big 12, but that’s certainly not due to a lack of opportunities. Opportunities, provided at least in part, by Luck’s administrative actions.
West Virginia has actually already played four ranked teams through seven games this season. They’re one of just two schools that can make that claim, and again, that’s a direct result of WVU’s conference jump.
WVU also recently announced the athletic department is back in the black. And as West Virginia’s revenue sharing stake in the Big 12 continues to inch toward a full share for the next couple of years, the department will only become more and more profitable.
But Luck has been responsible for a lot more than just helping the Mountaineers escape a conference that ended up imploding faster than Sunnyside.
Luck has also demonstrated his ability to lure talented coaches to Morgantown.
It may seem like an eternity ago, but Dana Holgorsen won a BCS bowl in his first season as head coach. Perhaps even more important, but less talked about, baseball head coach Randy Mazey and Jill Kramer volleyball head coach have seemingly turned their respective programs completely around since their arrivals.
All three coaches were Luck hires.
Luck has also had a major influence on the continuing development of the Mountaineers’ sporting venues and practice facilities.
In the last two years, Luck has overseen state-of-the-art facility upgrades within countless athletic facilities across all sports.
In 2012, WVU opened stunning $24 million basketball practice facility for the both the men and the women, and just last week Luck helped break ground for a brand new $16 million baseball stadium that is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
West Virginia also saw the best fundraising year in the Athletic Department’s history in 2012, with more than $22 million flowing into the school.
This year Luck’s notoriety grew even more as he was named to one of the 14 coveted spots on the CFB playoff committee.
The point is, whether some WVU supporters choose to recognize it or not, Luck has had an unbelievably positive influence since his arrival in Morgantown and losing him at this point could be fairly catastrophic, especially with the Mountaineers still in at least a bit of a transition phase.
Even worse, West Virginia would be losing him to a school within the same conference, more specifically a school that has seen its own share of adversity over the last few years. Looking forward, the last thing the Mountaineers need is a truly restored Texas to compete against in conference play.
Unfortunately for those that do support Luck and what he’s done during his time so far at WVU, decisions like this almost always come down to money, and that’s one department that the University of Texas will never be short in.
Currently, Luck makes a base salary of $550,000 at WVU. But he would make at least twice that in Austin, with the current AD raking in a cool $1.1 million a year.
Ultimately, for that money, I think Luck indeed takes the job if offered.
And frankly, I don’t blame him.