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Director Of Athletics Oliver Luck Leaving WVU For NCAA Position

The West Virginia University AD is taking a new job with the NCAA to oversee reform in intercollegiate athletics.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charleston Daily Mail writer Mike Casazza reported Wednesday morning that WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck is set to leave Morgantown to take a prominent role at the NCAA, perhaps as the organization's No. 2 man behind president Mark Emmert.

Casazza's report was confirmed in statements from both WVU and the NCAA. Luck's official title is "executive vice president of regulatory affairs." The position is a newly-created one, and Luck will begin work in January.

"It has been a tremendous honor to serve my alma mater as director of athletics for the past four and a half years," Luck said in the statement. "As those who have spent time in West Virginia know, this is truly a special place. It’s been an incredible experience for me to work with some of the best administrators, faculty, coaches, staff, student-athletes, fans, media and alumni in the nation. As a member of the Big 12, the University is well-positioned for future success and I know that great things lie ahead for WVU. My wife, Kathy, and I will always cherish our time in Morgantown and we will forever be Mountaineers."

Luck returned to West Virginia, his alma mater, in 2010, when he took over for longtime athletic director Ed Pastilong. He quickly reshuffled the deck throughout his department. Notable moves made during his tenure included the hiring of football coach Dana Holgorsen, the dissolution of WVU's in-house radio production arm (in favor of a comprehensive multimedia rights deal with IMG College), and steering the Mountaineers' athletics program out of the Big East Conference and into the Big 12.

Further moves included adding a men's golf program, developing and securing funding for a new baseball stadium, hiring coaches in several sports, planning significant upgrades to football's Milan Puskar Stadium and the adjacent team facilities, and allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages at athletic events.

Keli Cunningham, currently WVU's Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director, will serve as the interim athletic director while university president E. Gordon Gee searches for Luck's ultimate replacement. Cunningham came to Morgantown shortly after Luck's arrival in 2010 to lead the Mountaineers' compliance department.

"We plan to move swiftly to find the best fit in a new athletic director to lead our programs, coaches and student-athletes into a new era of Mountaineer athletics," Gee said in the statement.

Luck was widely suspected to be among the final candidates for the athletic director position at Texas (where Luck attended law school) before that position was ultimately filled by Steve Patterson in November 2013. His son Andrew is the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts -- a convenient arrangement for the Luck family since the NCAA's headquarters are also located in Indianapolis.