MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Oliver Luck could interview this week for the athletics director’s job at Texas, according to a report by OrangeBloods.com.
The website on Monday said multiple sources identified Luck as the frontrunner to replace DeLoss Dodds, the next hurdle being a face-to-face interview with UT’s seven-member advisory committee. If Luck makes a positive impression, his contract could be completed by mid-November, just days after Texas plays in Morgantown.
The OrangeBloods.com story follows a Friday report from Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News that said “Luck is the guy, barring a snag.”
While Luck has repeatedly declined comment on the Texas position, neither has he stated intentions to remain at West Virginia.
Luck is midway through his fourth year as West Virginia’s athletics director, a stint in which WVU found a home in the Big 12 after being stiff-armed by the SEC and ACC amid the realignment shuffle. The power-conference affiliation should mean a steep revenue boost in coming years, as could Luck’s other measures: enacting stadium beer sales, the reseating of basketball season ticketholders and this year’s auctioning of third-tier media rights to IMG College. (The details of how Luck and WVU arrived at that contract with IMG remain the subject of pending litigation.)
However, Luck oversaw a hamfisted coaching transition from the late Bill Stewart to Dana Holgorsen, a decision Luck reportedly admitted mishandling to Texas officials, according to OrangeBloods.com. Holgorsen’s record in Big 12 games dipped to 5-9 with Saturday’s 35-12 loss at K-State, foreshadowing all kinds of hot-seat implications should WVU fail to make a bowl.
Luck also made Bob Huggins one of the 10 highest-paid basketball coaches in the nation last year, boosting Huggins’ salary from $2.3 million to $3 million annually at a time when the coach wasn’t clamoring for such a hike and seemed content to finish his career at WVU anyway.
Luck’s ties to Texas run deep. He followed his undergraduate 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, participating in 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 WVU’s athletics director in June 2010, Luck served as president of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, working to fund the team’s 22,039-seat stadium that opened in 2012.
Luck recently was among the 13 members appointed to the college football playoff committee, which will set postseason pairings next season. His move to Texas wouldn’t necessarily affect that position, considering he could still serve as the sitting AD in the Big 12’s spot.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick reportedly declined interest in the job, but with the search firm of Korn/Ferry International vetting candidates, Texas could have its pick of top executives—from inside the NCAA and out.
Luck appears to be the current choice, but as Carlton wrote in the Dallas Morning News:
“He’s not without faults. The West Virginia football situation makes Texas look like the 2008 and ’09 vintage in comparison. The school’s bid process on third-tier media rights was messy.
“We know Luck is probably at the top of the short list now. The length of the search might tell us how much company he has — and how serious Texas is about finding the top candidate.”