MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck announced today that Joe Heskett has been hired as Associate Athletic Director for Sports Performance.
Heskett, a 2001 graduate of Iowa State, comes to West Virginia from Army, where he served as head coach of the Black Knights’ wrestling program for the past four seasons. At WVU, he will oversee athletic training and strength and conditioning and will serve as the sport administrator for rowing. He will also be athletics’ liaison to WELLWVU, the Student’s Center of Health within the Division of Student Affairs at the University, and will work closely with the student-athlete life enhancement program and the student-athlete advisory committee.
“Joe will be an outstanding addition to our athletic staff, and I think this is the perfect opportunity for him as he transitions from coaching to administration,” Luck said. “He was very impressive as one of our interview candidates for our head wrestling coach position, and with our overall increase in support for our student-athletes, Joe will provide key insight in the areas of academics, student health and welfare as well as career transitioning. I believe our student-athletes will benefit immensely from someone of Joe’s talent and skill set.”
During Heskett’s time at Army, the Black Knights qualified four wrestlers in 2012-13 and three in 2013-14 for the NCAA tournament. Last season, Army finished with an 8-4 overall record, including a 7-4 mark in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA). Army defeated No. 24-ranked Iowa State, 23-22, and also placed first at the New York State Championships.
In 2012-13, Heskett guided the Black Knights to a 3-3 EIWA record, while achieving an overall mark of 7-7. In 2011-12, Heskett led Army to 5-2 conference record, EIWA Freshman of the Year (first time in nearly 30 years) and a National Academic Award, which was awarded to Army wrestling for the first time. In Heskett’s four years at West Point, (Army had zero returning NCAA qualifiers in 2010) the Black Knights have sent 12 wrestlers to the NCAA tournament (2011 Army sent two athletes, 2012 Army sent three athletes, 2013 Army sent four athletes and 2014 Army sent three athletes).
Heskett began his coaching career at Cal Poly, where he was the head assistant wrestling coach and also earned his master's degree with honors in educational leadership with an emphasis in athletic administration. He assisted in all facets of the program, including fundraising, and helped the Mustangs to their highest NCAA placement in nearly 20 years.
He then became an assistant coach at Ohio State, where he helped the Buckeyes to four top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Tournament, two of which were NCAA runner up finishes, three NCAA champions and 15 All-Americans. He played a large role in securing the nation's top recruiting class in 2006 and helped sign a host of top prospects.
“My goal is to be a Division I athletic director and to learn and work with Oliver Luck is an opportunity I could not pass up,” Heskett said. “It will be a seamless transition for me coming from one of the best leadership academies in the world to working at West Virginia University with President E. Gordon Gee and Director Luck.
“I want to thank Keli Cunningham, Terri Howes and other members of the athletic department for their professionalism in this process. I have a great passion for leadership, and that’s why I am so excited to be joining West Virginia University.”
At Iowa State, Heskett won the 165-pound national championship in 2002 and was the eighth four-time All-American for the Cyclones. He graduated with a degree in speech communications and posted a career record of 143-9.
He was a three-time national finalist, finishing third as a freshman, followed by two overtime loses in the finals, but prevailed by earning the national championship during his senior campaign. Heskett captured three Big 12 Championships, won the prestigious Midlands event on three occasions and graduated third on Iowa State's all-time wins list.
Following his decorated collegiate career, Heskett earned a spot on the 2007 U.S. World Team after winning the U.S. Nationals and U.S. World Team Trials. Heskett is a 5 time U.S. National Team Member and he represented the United States at the `07 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan with a fifth-place finish. He dropped a tough, three-period battle with a two-time world champion from Russia in the semifinals before wrestling back to finish fifth. He was one of five United States wrestlers to qualify at his weight for the Olympics. Earlier that summer, he won a silver medal at 163 pounds at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Less than a week after returning from the World Championships, Heskett survived a rare and often fatal unannounced heart condition. After nearly a week of testing Heskett was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition and was forced to retire from competitive wrestling. He ended his career as the number one man on the U.S. Olympic Ladder and was ranked third in the World.
Leadership and leadership training is a passion of Heskett's. He was Iowa State's representative at the NCAA Leadership Conference, a board member of the Children's Body Image, a former member of the Major Ray Mendoza Leadership Fund and an Ambassador and Public Awareness Speaker for the Ohio State Medical Center. He is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer for h Leadership (founded in 2009), a visionary leadership company dedicated to revolutionizing sport through leadership and life skill education.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Heskett has three children, Olivia, Ava and Joey. His first day at WVU will be Friday, July 25.