September 11, 2014 – Meeting Roundup – WVU AD Oliver Luck
All you Mountaineer fans (and I know that you are a majority of the club) will want to attend this week’s meeting to hear the West Virginia University Athletic Director, Oliver Luck, speak.
Morgantown is perhaps the only place in America where he’s more than just someone’s dad. Oliver Luck first set foot here 35 years ago, a brainy quarterback from Cleveland with no clue whether he was good enough to compete at the collegiate level. “It was a simpler and in some respects more fun time,” he says after the recruits have left, chuckling about all the now-illegal benefits they received from local coal barons — hamburgers, mostly — back in his day. He became a school legend, breaking Mountaineer passing records and leading the program back to national prominence.
In the decades between his final game — a 1981 Peach Bowl victory over Florida — and his 2010 appointment as West Virginia athletic director, he played in the NFL and cobbled together a remarkable business career as a sort of wandering, problem-solving managerial sage. He built two successful World League of American Football franchises “from soup to nuts” in Germany before moving to London to become president of NFL Europe. From there he went to Houston, where he helped oversee the financing and construction of three stadiums and lure the original San Jose Earthquakes down south. Despite possessing only a vague grasp on soccer, he became the first president and general manager of the newly rebranded Houston Dynamo, and the team won two championships during his five-year tenure. Meanwhile, he was appointed by the governor to the West Virginia University Board of Governors.
Now, Luck has brought his golden touch home to Morgantown, insofar as the concept of home holds for someone whose professional life seems episodic, almost random. His boldest victory was in 2012, when he engineered West Virginia’s move from the “crumbling” Big East to the all-hegemonic Big 12. As a result, the school was able to secure both a lucrative multimedia rights deal and, thanks to a public financing maneuver he learned while in Houston, funding for a new baseball stadium. Moving to the Big 12 also gave him a mandate to reevaluate and revamp all the athletic programs: In 2011, he ousted head football coach Bill Stewart and appointed the up-and-coming mutant Air Raider Dana Holgorsen. (He’s also done little things like ensuring that fans in the stadium can drink beer while admiring Holgorsen’s exquisite dishevelment.)
Find out more about his vision for the future of WVU athletics at this week’s meeting.
A Rotary Moment
District Governor Jason Piatt spoke to us last week about how we should all have a Rotary moment. He described that moment as the time you transition from being a member of a Rotary club to being a Rotarian. He told us his first Rotary moment was when he took a trip to India to help with a clean water project and also helped provide polio vaccine to people in the village he visited.
Jason also talked about President Gary C.K. Huang’s visit to our district, the first visit by a sitting president of Rotary to our district ever! He said Gary was just a down-to-earth guy who was genuinely interested in what we are doing. Jason was genuinely enthusiastic about Rotary and what we, as a club, are doing.
Answer to last week’s question:
It is recommended that a Rotary club support an existing agency rather than create a new one and duplicate the work. Cooperation with existing agencies is preferable.
This week’s question:
It is not unusual for our club to have married couples as members. We have several couples now. Who were the first married couple in our club (hint: they are no longer members and were members in the 90’s)?
Clara Opdebeeck, our exchange student from Belgium, was also visiting us.
Brian Truman, president of the Sunrise club, was out lone visiting Rotarian. Although they were not considered as visiting Rotarians, Assistant Governor Bill Powell and District Governor Jason Piatt, our speaker, were also visiting Rotarians.
Ed Arnett brought Anna and Pete Brewster, who are the parents of student guest Tyler Brewster. Jerry Motley, Business Development Manager for Cisco Networking Distribution who is now retired, was a guest of Tom Keys. Bill Yearout brought Don Cookman, State Senator for the 15th District.
The golf tournament is next week and we still need golfers and sponsors. The goal is 100 golfers and we are still short of that number.
There will be a meeting of the membership committee immediately after the regular meeting this week.
The Martinsburg Sunrise club is having their annual Crab Feast Thursday at Jim Whitaker’s farm. Crabs, chicken and lots of other food in this all-you-can-eat fund raiser along with entertainment for only $40/person. Contact Panhandle Home Health for tickets. Only 10 remained as of Thursday.
Panhandle Home Health is hosting a Holiday Charity Masquerade with the theme of “Phantom of the Opera” on Saturday, November 15th at the Purple Iris. Visit www.panhandlehomehealth.org for details.
PP Mike Hornby bought a lot of tickets and it paid off when he won 50/50. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t hold and he didn’t draw the elusive Queen of Hearts. We are down to 41 cards as the pot grows. Buy your winning ticket from Mike this week.