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Oliver Luck leaving West Virginia for position at NCAA

December 17, 2014

West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck is joining the Indianapolis-based NCAA as executive vice president of regulatory affairs.

Luck's son, Andrew, is the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback.

The NCAA is creating a new position for Luck that will bring academic and membership affairs, the eligibility center and enforcement under one umbrella. He will oversee day-to-day operations in all NCAA regulatory functions. Among his duties, the NCAA said in its announcement, will be "strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities."

Luck will report to NCAA President Mark Emmert, who created the role during a restructuring of his senior staff earlier this year. Luck will start his new job early next year.

"I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office," Emmert said in a statement. "He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I'm anxious for him to get started with us."

The 54-year-old Luck has been AD at his alma mater for four years. He orchestrated West Virginia's move from the Big East to the Big 12.

A search committee of representatives from NCAA member schools, led by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, recommended Luck for the position.

Athletic directors in recent years have voiced concerns that they are not represented well enough in the NCAA. Luck helps bring that perspective Indianapolis.

"This is an excellent fit for the NCAA and for college athletics," Bowlsby said in a statement. "Oliver is smart, analytical, energetic and insightful. While this is a big loss for WVU and the Big 12 it is a tremendous hire for our national association."

The is moving to a new governance model that allows the five wealthiest conferences - the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference — to make rules in certain areas without the approval of the rest of the Division I members.

"This is a time of fundamental change in intercollegiate athletics that will set the foundation for the years ahead," Luck said. "The challenges both internal and external to the NCAA present a unique opportunity to help shape the landscape for hundreds of thousands of young men and women.

"I look forward to partnering with campus executives, administrators, coaches and student-athletes, to enhance the intercollegiate athletics experience."

Luck is also a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, one of five active ADs from the Big Five conferences.

The Big 12 will nominate a replacement for Luck and that person will be named by the spring, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.

Luck may be a future successor of NCAA President Mark Emmert, according to David Ridpath, a sports administration professor at Ohio University.

“Given that he has worked outside the intercollegiate athletic bubble and understands that the enterprise is evolving, I am certain he will bring great ideas and philosophies to the table,” said Ridpath, who is also president-elect of the Drake Group, a collection of university faculty members who since 1999 have called for reform in college athletics. “Along with being willing to shed college sports of the old ways of thinking, which clearly do not work in the commercialized 21st century.”

West Virginia’s athletic director since 2010, Luck has been outspoken about issues facing the NCAA, including the need for scholarships to match the cost of attendance and his belief that athletes should be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, the central theme behind the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit.

“That is who you are, that is your identity,” Luck said earlier this year at a Big 12 event in New York. “If we are in fact using the name image and likeness of the student athlete, I don’t think he or she waives that right just because they accept a scholarship.”
 

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