Column - Luck has made impact felt in short time as WVU’s AD
Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 00:03
It's been less than two years since West Virginia University hired Oliver Luck as its Athletics Director.
And not only has Luck accomplished a handful of things in just 20 months, but he's been spot on with almost every major decision he's made.
Let's start with the coaching changes.
Luck was hired on June 9, 2010 and before the summer was over, the new director had already made two coaching changes. He relieved long-time volleyball head coach Veronica Hammersmith of her duties and tennis coach Marc Walters of his.
Here's the catch: both were coming off their most successful seasons in years. Hammersmith had just won 17 matches; the most since the 2004 season. And Walters, who took over in 2006-07, had also won 17 matches – the highest for the program since the 1989-90 season.
But Luck was bold. He wanted change. And he went for it – not afraid of what might happen if it didn't work.
Both coaches have brought new energy to the program that it hadn't seen before.
Then there was the football team. It didn't even take Luck an entire season before he knew he wanted to change the leadership of his moneymaking sport. Bill Stewart just wasn't cutting it.
So what did Luck do? He went behind people's backs to secure one of the most successful young offensive minds in college football.
As if that wasn't bold enough, risky enough, Luck then pulled the plug on his own head coach-in-waiting plan and installed Holgorsen, a 40-year-old with zero years of head coaching experience, as the next Mountaineer football coach.
A regular season and 70 points later, West Virginia had won the Big East Conference championship and the Orange Bowl in record-setting fashion.
Then there were alcohol sales at Milan Puskar Stadium. How could selling alcohol at a stadium for an already rowdy fanbase be a good idea?
Well, Luck thought it was a good idea, so he went forward with it, despite skepticism from many around the state.
And, go figure, it worked like a charm.
Not only did beer sales net $520,000 for the athletic department and its total concession sales netted $130,000 more than the year before.
If that weren't enough, here's the kicker: there were fewer total incidents and arrests at the stadium than the year before.
Who would have thought that would have been the case? Luck did.
And finally, how could you ignore West Virginia's move to the Big 12 Conference?
It's just another example of Luck doing something to help improve the situation of the athletic department and the University as a whole.
The Big East was sinking fast, and West Virginia needed a lifeboat. The SEC and the ACC told West Virginia it was unwanted. Media outlets from around the country started to bash the University, bash the state on why it wasn't good enough for a
But Luck wasn't having any of it. While the ACC and SEC would've been the more foreseeable option, Luck worked the phones and found WVU a home – the Big 12.
Were questions raised about a move to a conference that made almost zero geographical sense? Absolutely. But it's Oliver Luck – a man who has showed no apprehension for taking risks in the past.
The latest project on Luck's plate is the proposed baseball stadium at the University Town Center.
Using tax increment funding, something he has significant experience with while working as the general manager of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, Luck wants to decrease the burden on the athletic department. Smart move. But would you expect anything otherwise?
It hasn't been long, but Luck has already proved that he's smart enough – and bold enough – to continue moving WVU into a positive direction in the future.