MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — University president Gordon Gee said West Virginia aims to move swiftly in hiring a new athletics director, having known for a month that Oliver Luck planned to accept a position with the NCAA.
Even as fans start their wishlist with 1991 WVU graduate and current Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens, Gee won’t focus solely on candidates who possess AD experience. That’s the same open-mindedness that allowed Luck to be hired in 2010.
“We’ve had an opportunity to think very carefully about how we would position ourselves to find the next great athletic director,” Gee said. “I don’t know who it is, but I’ll know him when I see him.”
Saying West Virginia is open to various backgrounds in finding “the next great athletic director,” Gordon Gee added: “I don’t know who it is, but I’ll know him when I see him.”
Wednesday’s announcement that Luck would serve as executive vice president of regulatory affairs for NCAA—essentially becoming a lieutenant to Mark Emmert in the fight to restore the NCAA’s tarnished image—was a point of pride for Gee.
“I hate to lose good people, but if you lose them for the right reason, then it’s an honor to the university,” said Gee.
“I would have been disappointed if Oliver had left for another athletic director’s job. … On the other hand, to take on the reformation of intercollegiate athletics as the chief operation officer at the NCAA, is an extraordinary responsibility and opportunity. And it’s one of our own doing it, so I feel very positive about it.”
Luck sought the University of Texas athletics director position last year that went to Arizona State’s Steve Patterson. While West Virginia’s financial riches can’t rival those of Texas, Gee considers it a plum job. West Virginia ranked 33rd in athletics revenue last year at more than $77.7 million (a figure that included a $4.4 million subsidy from the school).
Reliant on a team of advisers melded from campus insiders and industry experts, Gee said he aims to land “an extraordinary leader” who can flourish amid what he described as the unique culture of Mountaineers athletics.
“You’re not going out and hiring a cheerleader,” he said. “You’re hiring someone who really does have the substance to understand the values and issues that are important to the people of this state.”