Director of Athletics and Associate Vice President for WVU
As Director of Athletics at West Virginia University, Oliver Luck has worked endlessly and traveled the world to enhance the Mountaineers’ role as a major player in collegiate athletics.
In four years on the job, Luck’s accomplishments have been nothing short of spectacular. In the past year alone, he successfully guided the start of construction on a new $21 million baseball park, which will open in 2015 and provide the Mountaineers with one of the best facilities in the Big 12.
Add in his tireless efforts to secure a $75 million bond, start a $25 million fundraising effort and proceed with a $6 million new football team room and Luck’s efforts will show $106 million in facility improvements in the coming years to bring WVU’s aging facilities into the modern times.
His work on the national level is equally impressive and equally valuable to West Virginia University. He was named in 2013 to a three-year term on the inaugural College Football Playoff committee, which will change the face of the college football national championship. He serves on the NFL Player Safety Advisory Committee, chairs the Big 12 Budget and Finance Committee, serves on the board of American Campus Community, Inc., and in May, 2014, was one of the featured speakers at the White House at the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit through his work with the organization Practice Like Pros.
Among athletic directors, Luck is also one of the most popular speakers on the national circuit. Countless seminars and conventions feature him on panels and discussion groups to tap into his knowledge of the corporate and collegiate world.
Before 2014, his previous three years at WVU were equally impressive and busy. He has hired new coaches to bolster WVU’s level of success. He guided the completion of major capital projects such as the $25 million WVU basketball practice facility for men’s and women’s basketball and the women’s soccer training complex.
He led WVU into the Big 12 Conference, presided over the best fundraising year in school history (2012), implemented several safety and crowd enhancements at Mountaineer sporting events, increased overall department revenue, continued a master plan for facility upgrades and watched his football program gain its third BCS bowl victory.
In 2013, Luck oversaw the reseating of the WVU Coliseum to further increase WVU’s fundraising efforts. He added an 18th varsity sport - men’s golf, which will tee it up in 2015 for the first time since 1982. He outsourced WVU’s media rights to secure a 12-year guaranteed annual revenue source of at least $6 million per year from IMG. However, through all his accomplishments in four years in Morgantown, it all has occurred while he has fostered an atmosphere for achievement and triumph in the classroom and on the field.
Luck, was appointed the University’s 11th Director of Athletics on June 9, 2010 and he was no stranger to success. In fact, Luck’s athletic and professional career has been the epitome of success, first as a record-setting quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1978-81, then as a professional quarterback for the National Football League’s Houston Oilers, and later as a professional sports executive.
Luck’s journey to the big chair at WVU began in his native Cleveland, where in 1977 he was named the Cleveland Touchdown Club Player of the Year at St. Ignatius High. Luck chose WVU over Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale, embarking upon a career that saw him establish school records for touchdown passes and completions during his playing days, while also leading the Mountaineers to a 26-6 upset victory over Florida in the 1981 Peach Bowl.
His best season came as a senior in 1981 when he completed 216 of 394 passes for 2,448 yards and 16 touchdowns. He passed for a career-high 360 yards in a 27-24 loss to Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in the final regular-season game of his career.
Luck ended his college career with 5,765 yards and 43 touchdown passes, both figures still ranking among the best in school history. Luck was a two-time team MVP in 1980 and 1981, and also received the Louis D. Meisel Award for the WVU football student-athlete with the highest grade point average. The two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American was the recipient of Today’s Top Five, presented for scholastics by the NCAA and was selected by the National Football Foundation as one of its 10 scholar-athletes to make a keynote speech at its annual banquet in 1982.
Selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Houston Oilers (44th overall pick), Luck spent four years with the Oilers from 1982-86. His most extended action came in 1983 when he started six games and finished the season completing 124-of-217 passes for 1,375 yards and eight touchdowns.
After retiring from football, Luck became vice president of business development for the NFL and later was appointed general manager of the Frankfurt Galaxy of the newly created World League of American Football. He spent the ’95 season as general manager of the Rhein Fire before being named President and CEO of NFL Europe in 1996. Luck totaled more than 10 years with the NFL, before becoming chief executive officer of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority in 2001.
In that role, Luck oversaw the development and management of a $1 billion professional sports and entertainment complex for the city of Houston that included Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, the Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets.
In 2005, Luck was appointed as the first president of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamos, helping that organization to a pair of MLS Cup titles in his first two years at the helm. Luck secured the funding for an $80 million soccer complex to house the Dynamos when the call came to return to his alma mater. BBVA Compass Stadium was built and opened in 2012 adding to Luck’s legacy with the professional soccer team, and the overall Houston sports facility complexes. He returned to Houston in May, 2012 for the opening ceremony of the soccer stadium that he fought so hard for.
Prior to his current position at WVU, Luck was appointed to a four-year term on the West Virginia University Board of Governors, a spot he relinquished to become director of athletics.
The Rhodes Scholar finalist graduated Phi Beta Kappa from WVU in 1982. He also earned a law degree from Texas, graduating cum laude in 1987. In 1997, Luck was inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2000, he was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
He is married to the former Kathy Wilson. They have two sons and two daughters: Andrew, a former All-American quarterback and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford and No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts; Mary Ellen, a standout volleyball player and graduate of Stanford; Emily, a current student at Stanford and Addison, who attends Morgantown High.
WVU’s Directors of Athletics
Anthony Chez, 1904-13
E.R. Sweetland, 1913-14
George Pyle, 1914-17
Harry Stansbury, 1917-38
Roy “Legs” Hawley, 1938-54
Robert “Red” Brown, 1954-72
Leland Byrd, 1972-78
Richard Martin, 1978-81
Fred Schaus, 1981-89
Ed Pastilong, 1989-2010
Oliver Luck, 2010-present