WVU's Luck passed over at Texas
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Just when it appeared Oliver Luck was on the verge of leaving West Virginia to take over one of the prime jobs in the country as the University of Texas athletic director, he was edged out by Steve Patterson.
Luck, the one-time West Virginia quarterback, woke up Tuesday morning as the front-runner to be named Texas' athletic director. An announcement was expected perhaps as early as next Monday — and that far off because WVU plays the Longhorns in football this weekend and that would have created an uncomfortable situation for Luck to be AD of both schools at the same time as they play.
By noon Tuesday, however, Luck was out of luck.
Texas instead announced Patterson, the AD at Arizona State, will replace DeLoss Dodds, who had been Texas' athletic director for 32 years. Patterson interviewed over the weekend.
“Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas' athletic success and DeLoss Dodds' legacy,” Texas president Bill Powers said in a statement. “Steve helped build an NBA championship team and brought the Super Bowl game to Houston. Far more important, he's run a winning program at Arizona State that places students first and is committed to their lifelong success.”
The decision that Patterson, 55, was leaving for Texas was confirmed by Arizona State president Michael Crow.
“During his stay at ASU, Steve Patterson has positioned Sun Devil athletics to continue its forward momentum well into the future,” Crow said in a statement. “I well understand his desire to return to his home state and wish him well at the University of Texas.”
Luck did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Dodds, who oversaw an athletic budget of $163.3 million that was the nation's highest and more than double WVU's $70-million plus budget, will step down Aug. 31.
Patterson faces a number of difficult decisions, holding the future of football coach Mack Brown, who plays against Luck's West Virginia team Saturday night in Morgantown, and basketball coach Rick Barnes in his hands.
Brown got off to a slow start but now is pushing Texas for a Big 12 title. He is signed through 2020 and is being paid $5.4 million this season.
Luck, a Rhodes Scholar finalist at West Virginia, played professionally in Houston and earned a law degree from Texas while playing there professionally. He went on to become vice president of business development for the NFL, general manager of the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League of American Football and then for a year was general manager of the Rhein Fire.
He was named president and CEO of NFL Europe in 1996 and spent 10 years before becoming chief executive officer of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority.
He added president of the Major League Soccer Houston Dynamo to his resume in 2005 before being named WVU athletic director on June 9, 2010.
Luck has pushed to make improvements and modernize the WVU athletic department, adding four head coaches his first year, finishing off the basketball and soccer practice facilities, then engineering the move into the Big 12 while increasing fundraising, reseating the Coliseum and pushing through financing for a baseball stadium.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.