MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, after indicating to MetroNews he had no intentions of talking with Texas about its soon-to-be-vacant athletics director position, subsequently clarified Tuesday afternoon he had no comment on the situation.
DeLoss Dodds, UT’s athletics director since 1981, announced Tuesday his plan to retire in August 2014, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. That story quoted an unnamed source who identified Luck as a candidate “to keep an eye on.”
In a text message exchange with MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval, Luck initially replied “No” when asked whether he would speak with Texas about the AD job if contacted.
Then, within a half-hour of that proclamation appearing on the website, Luck sent a follow-up text that read: “My no was to say that I am not making any comments.”
Texas represents the richest athletics program in the nation, and Dodds’ successor instantly becomes a heavyweight influence on all matters Big 12-related and the continuing shifts of college football realignment. The new athletics director also inherits the onus of reshaping the department’s coaching tree with Mack Brown, Augie Garrido and, to a lesser extent, Rick Barnes on tenuous ground.
Luck’s ties to Texas run deep, considering he followed his undergrad days at WVU by earning a law degree from UT in 1987. He later served four years as CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, overseeing a pro-franchise facilities boom that included the opening of the NFL’s Reliant Stadium in 2002 and the NBA’s Toyota Center in 2003.
From 2005 until becoming West Virginia’s athletics director in June 2010, Luck was president of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, helping secure funding for the team’s 22,039-seat BBVA Compass Stadium that opened in 2012.
Luck’s current contract at WVU runs through 2017 and guarantees him $550,000 annually with a performance bonus up to $150,000 per year.
Along with shepherding West Virginia into the Big 12, Luck’s tenure as AD has been marked by ambitious moves—such as hiring football coach Dana Holgorsen to replace Bill Stewart after three consecutive nine-win seasons, and implementing a basketball reseating initiative at the WVU Coliseum to drive up revenue.
Luck also played a key role in the university outsourcing its third-tier media rights to IMG College for $86 million over the next 12 years, a contract estimated to net about $2 million annually over what WVU previously earned by handling the rights in-house. However, following a review by attorney general Patrick Morrisey, WVU president Jim Clements removed Luck from the final round of bidding for those media rights after the AD was found to have shared confidential vendor information with WVU board of governors members who had a financial stake in subcontracting work for IMG.
The fallout from that misstep has spawned a lawsuit from West Virginia Radio Corp.—the parent company of MetroNews—that names Luck, Clements and eight other defendants. Both parties agreed this week to transfer the case to the state’s business court.