Oliver Luck Details Work with NCAA

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Charleston Gazette-Mail


It's been just over 35 years since Oliver Luck donned the Old Gold and Blue as a quarterback for WVU and led the Mountaineers to a Peach Bowl victory over Wilber Marshall and Florida.

West Virginia finished No. 17 in the final Associated Press poll that season (No. 1, by the way, was Clemson) and set up Don Nehlen's successful run as coach.

Of course, Luck later returned to Morgantown as an athletic director and set up WVU's current run as a Big 12 member. He hired Dana Holgorsen as football coach and extended the contract of basketball coach Bob Huggins until, basically, retirement.

Now, Luck is setting the table for all of college athletics as an NCAA executive vice president. He's been in charge of regulatory issues, but - breaking news alert - recently added responsibilities.

"I'm really enjoying this, Luck told the Gazette-Mail last week. "And I was just given additional responsibilities. When I was hired two years ago, I was given authority over regulatory issues. Beginning Jan. 1, I've been asked by Mark Emmert, our [NCAA] president, to oversee the relationship with Time Warner and CBS in regard to our basketball tournament contract. That's obviously very important because it's really one of the few revenue sources we [at the NCAA] have.

"I've also been asked to get much more involved in the football-related issues we have coming down the pike. Issues like how do we shorten the game? Our game is too long. Do we need to figure out rule changes to shorten [games] and make them safer? That's in addition to my regulatory stuff.

It's what you call a full plate.

"The football championship was four hours and eight minutes long, Luck said. "That's OK because it's a championship game. The TV numbers, as they always are, were very strong. But what people are forgetting is games are going longer because teams are using up-tempo offenses. Clemson ran, like, 99 plays. When you run more plays like that you have health and safety issues. Teams that don't have depth are challenged.

"It's something a lot of commissioners from conferences big and small think we need to take a look at. Should we spot the ball after it's out of bounds? That would shave five, six, seven seconds off every play. Should the 20-minute halftime be dropped down to 18 minutes? Is that still enough time for the band to perform, which is an important part of college football?

Luck knows college football first as a player, then as an athletic director - and also as a member of the College Football Playoff committee.

"I was involved with it that first year, Luck said. "I think it's worked pretty well. The final game was about as good as it gets. I spent last weekend with a lot of the playoff people and I didn't sense any desire to change the model at this point.

Luck, by the way, keeps a keen eye on his alma mater.

"I'll always be a huge WVU fan, he said. "I was disappointed in the [football] team's performance in the bowl game, but I thought [Holgorsen] had a pretty good season. Winning 10 games in a conference like the Big 12, given the fact there was also a pretty good non-conference slate, was pretty good.

"And what Huggins is doing is unbelievable. I love the fact that he said a couple years ago he'd get it fixed. And, boy, has he ever fixed it. Knocking off No. 1 Baylor the way they did the other night & what a great game. He has a team this year and it's exciting. I'm glad we signed him to a lifetime contract.

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, where the NCAA is physically located, issues are swirling.

"My main focus over the last couple of months has been a package of changes, modifications to football's recruiting calendar, Luck said. "It's a fairly big deal because the calendar hasn't been changed much over the last four or five years.

"There's a proposal coming out to have an early signing date in December and to limit the number of satellite camps schools can have. Those would be limited to 10 days and have to be either on your campus or on another collegiate campus. So WVU's coaches could go to Tennessee or vice versa.

Also in football, coaches are hoping to copy their basketball brethren to a degree.

"Basketball has an IAWP, the Individual Associated With a Prospect [bylaw], Luck said. "That's to prevent a coach from hiring an AAU coach to get a kid. That's worked fairly well in basketball. Not perfect, but fairly well to clean up that. Now coaches in football are interested in bringing that concept to their sport. You can't hire the high school coach just because you want that kid at your school.

The bylaw covers parents, handlers, coaches, etc. They can't be hired two years before or after enrollment.

"We had a big session earlier in the week at the [American Football Coaches Association] convention, Luck said. "All the guys were there, Urban Meyer, James Franklin, Hugh Freeze, David Shaw, you name it, Pat Fitzgerald & they made pretty strong recommendations.

Also, if you have an athlete landing a scholarship, you probably know the academic standards have gone up. Instead of a 2.0 core grade-point average, you need a 2.3 GPA. Ten of 16 core courses have to be completed before the senior year, with seven needed in English, math and science.

"Earlier this year, in August, higher academic standards went into effect, Luck said. "That had been worked on by the NCAA for five years. Everybody approved it, but it just went into effect. The good news is higher standards, in terms of incoming student-athletes, usually means increased graduation rates on the back end. That's what we're striving for.

"The new standards have worked pretty well. They've changed behavior at the high school level. It's led to positive changes there. Most people in Division I, Division II are pretty satisfied with the new standards.

Again, a full plate.

A long way from handing the ball to Dane Conwell, Curlin Beck or Mickey Walczak.


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January 16, 2017


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