Until he was hired as the first-ever executive vice president of regulatory affairs at the NCAA, Oliver Luck might have been best known in these parts as the father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (he and his wife, Kathy, also have two daughters and another son). But Oliver Luck made a name for himself long before Andrew came to town. An honors graduate from West Virginia University – where he was an MVP quarterback and Rhodes Scholar nominee – he played pro football and earned a law degree before launching a career that included leadership roles in professional soccer and football. Most recently, he served as athletic director at West Virginia University.
On March 23, Luck participated in an INconversation to talk about topics including amateurism in collegiate athletics, the pressures on today’s college athletes, freshman eligibility and Title IX. Following are five things we learned from and about Luck during his talk.
- America’s collegiate athletics system is unique. “There are no other universities in the world that do athletics the way we do,” Luck said. “We have a system that’s not duplicated anywhere.”
- Sometimes the game takes second place. As much as Luck enjoyed coaching his daughters, one thing he really treasured was the post-game or post-practice ride home. Still hyped up on adrenaline, his daughters would talk nonstop for 15 to 20 minutes. “Those 15 to 20 minutes were priceless,” Luck said.
- Losers can win. Luck ran for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District seat in 1990, winning in the GOP primary but losing in the general election. Despite the loss, he said it was a good experience. “I think everything you do, you build for the future,” he said.
- Downtime is important. These days, college athletes spend so much time practicing, training and playing that they miss out on typical college experiences such as internships and study abroad. Luck would support a policy that required them to take time off. “The smartest thing I’ve heard is really a month or two of downtime,” he said.
- He learns from – and delights in – books. Luck draws his inspiration from nonfiction books. “I don’t really have a mentor,” Luck said. “I take lessons from history and historical figures.” He said his favorite recent book is “Annals of the Former World” by John McPhee, and he got a kick out of sharing a fun fact from that geology-focused book: The line of mountains that includes the Appalachian Mountains actually extends to Scotland.
Special thanks to Anthony Calhoun for serving as the moderator of the conversation and our partners at the Indiana Sports Corp.