As Challenges Mount, NCAA Hires Oliver Luck As New No. 2

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For the NCAA, 2014 was a year of major lawsuits and pointed criticisms — and not too many people are expecting smooth sailing in 2015. Perhaps with that in mind, the NCAA recently created a new position — second only to President Mark Emmert. In December, former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck accepted the job. Luck also happens to be the father of NFL quarterback Andrew Luck.

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel recently wrote about what Oliver Luck might mean to the future of the NCAA. He joined Bill Littlefield on Only A Game.

BL: Gregg, let’s start with Oliver Luck’s resume. As we mentioned, he was the athletic director at West Virginia and a member of the selection committee for the new College Football Playoff as well. What else made him so appealing to the NCAA?

[sidebar title="Oliver Luck's Very Polite Son Andrew" width="630" align="right"]When Colts quarterback Andrew Luck gets sacked, he is unusually polite to the opponent who did it.[/sidebar]GD: Well, he's a little bit of everything. He was a great, great football player in college, went to the pros, played in the NFL. He ran NFL Europe for about five years. Of course, NFL Europe doesn't exist anymore, so maybe I should have not have mentioned that. He ran the authority that brought the Texans to Houston and then got their stadium built.

While none of those things really specify, scream out "NCAA official," he's just got this broad wealth of experience and the most appealing thing about him — and I talked to him and I saw this for myself — is he's a naive, ambitious egghead. And he really believes in the sanctity of the NCAA and what it can accomplish and yet also thinks that it needs to evolve with the times, and players ought to get some sort of compensation, at the very least for their autographs. He's going to drag the NCAA into the 21st century. He's going to do it, and that's what the NCAA needs.

BL: Mr. Luck’s new title is "executive vice president for regulatory affairs." Do you have a sense, at this point, of what his responsibilities will be? 

GD: His job is really to bring ideas to the table that the membership can live with to start gettin' players some compensation. It's not a coincidence this hiring is happening now with the NCAA just recently looking down the barrels of two really bad court decisions about — student athletes are now considered employees, according to the National Labor [Relations] Board and student athletes also have the right to be compensated for their likenesses, according to the EA Sports / Ed O'Bannon thing. So, Luck is coming on, I think, because the NCAA knows they need somebody to lead them from where they are now to where we all know they need to be in about six months or a year. And Luck is the guy to do it.

BL: So, is this a case of NCAA President Mark Emmert saying, "I don't agree with the courts, but I'm gonna hire a guy who does?"

Luck is a one-man wrecking crew to get players paid.

Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star

So, he wants people sitting around that table making decisions, offering quality ideas from a place of perspective and respect. And so when Emmert goes to the membership and says "This is what we've come up with," the membership will know, "This is coming from one of our own. Oliver Luck is an A.D. He's one of us. If he's the guy saying this is what we need to do then we need to start listening to this guy." Luck is a one-man wrecking crew to get players paid. That's what I think is going to happen.

BL: Gregg, as we mentioned, Oliver Luck’s son is Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts play in Indianapolis, which is also headquarters for the NCAA. Any risk of Oliver dethroning Andrew as the most popular guy named Luck in Indiana? 

GD: [Laughing] Zero. None. In fact, by working for the NCAA, he kind of guarantees he won't be all that popular because they're the biggest dog on the block and everybody's mad at them because they're not doing what we all think they should do, which is let players get paid, A., and B., stop screwing around with the way you punish some schools and don't punish others. The NCAA makes no sense at all. People don't like the NCAA. Oliver Luck is joining that company. He will not be popular. But Andrew Luck is everything in the city where I live, Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is everything. Oliver Luck ain't replacing that guy.

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This segment aired on January 3, 2015.


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