Luck looks back at first two years as WVU AD
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:08
Since he started working in athletics in 1991, Oliver Luck has always been involved in professional sports.
He has spent time as a General Manager of multiple NFL Europe franchises and was successful in his stint as the president of the MLS’s Houston Dynamo, winning MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007.
But when West Virginia came calling for his services as its Athletic Director in 2010, it was hard to say no.
"The chance to come back here – it’s special," Luck said. "Quite honestly, it’s why I’m not interested in taking any other jobs any time soon. You always want to help your alma mater when you get the chance because of the big role it helped play in your life."
Luck’s first two years as WVU’s AD have been pretty eventful.
With personnel changes, conference realignment, television deals, among other things, Luck has found a way to make an impact on the landscape of West Virginia athletics pretty quickly.
And he has his background and experience in professional leagues to thank for that progress.
"College athletics is an industry, and we’re a self-sufficient athletic department. It’s a business now more than ever," Luck said. "We always have to keep in mind that, while we play for the University and the state, we have to make it so that the people that come out to our games enjoy themselves when they’re here.
"You can’t always guarantee a victory, but if you have good coaches and players and you’re playing good competition, it makes it easier."
He admitted that, while West Virginia has been able to make a lot of progress since he took over, it wasn’t hard to keep improving the athletic department with tradition like WVU’s.
"By and large we were in good shape. WVU has a great legacy athletically, and that’s one of the reasons why we were attracted to the Big 12 was because they have decades of great performances as well," Luck said. "What I saw before I came in was that there was a lot of change getting ready to come about in college athletics and we needed to find ways to have it affect WVU in positive ways."
One of those things Luck has done to help move the programs at West Virginia forward is hire head coaches who can continue moving their respective teams in the right direction.
The five new head coaches who have come to Morgantown in the last couple years have all shared a common theme of being relatively young, bright minds who are respected in their sports.
"To a certain degree, it depends on where the program is at the time," Luck said. "I don’t necessarily think you have to hire someone who has been a head coach before. (Volleyball coach) Jill Kramer is that way and so is Dana (Holgorsen). They might make some mistakes along the way, but you have to let them make them to a certain degree when they’re starting out."
Luck has had to take the job and handle everything that comes with it while also trying to be an active parent to his four kids. His oldest daughter Mary Ellen currently plays volleyball at Stanford, and some people might know his oldest son, Andrew, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in this year’s NFL draft.
Luck has tried to balance the two sides of things, making sure to attend as many of his kids’ events as he possibly can.
"When you have to bounce around to watch your kid play in the NFL or at Stanford, there are much worse problems you could have to deal with," Luck said. "You can’t replace the opportunity to see them after games – even if it’s just for like 15 minutes after the game.
"It’s almost better to be there after bad performances than it is for good ones. That’s when, even though they’re adults, you really need to be there as a parent."