Luck outlines coming changes

ELKINS – West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck gave Elkins Rotary Club members an overview Monday of major changes taking place at WVU.

Luck said there is more construction going on in Morgantown now than at any other time in the past. He estimated that close to $1 billion in construction projects are underway, including new academic structures on the Evansdale campus’ Davis School of Agriculture for use as engineering buildings.

Three new student housing projects are also being built and the university is creating a new baseball park for use by the Mountaineer baseball program as well as a minor league Single A short season team. Luck said the Jamestown Jammers will relocate to Morgantown.

A new interchange is being built on Interstate 79 between Westover and Star City that Luck said will serve the new baseball facility as well as the University Town Center. He described Morgantown as the economic engine for North Central West Virginia.

In addition to new facilities, Luck listed upgrades and improvements coming to other athletic venues. The WVU men’s golf program is being resurrected, bringing WVU to 18 varsity sports. Luck said the WVU Athletic Department is spending about $100 million to upgrade existing facilities.

The east and west concourses of the football stadium will be renovated, as well as the concourse of the Coliseum.

A second locker room is being built at the soccer field and the shell building which houses the indoor track will also get some needed renovations. Citing the competitive nature of the Big 12, Luck said about a month after WVU announced $100 million in improvements, the University of Oklahoma announced it was putting $350 million into its football stadium.

Luck said there is a movement among the top five conferences, which represent 65 teams including WVU and the rest of the Big 12, to become more autonomous and independent from many NCAA rules.

He explained the conferences are not necessarily breaking away from the NCAA, but will still be under its umbrella.

Luck said he expects the NCAA Board of Directors to approve the new governance model. He noted that had WVU not left the Big East and joined the Big 12, it would not be covered by the new governance model. Luck said that would have left the Mountaineers as a regional school with no national presence.