Longtime collegiate and professional sports executive Oliver Luck has been brought on as the executive director of the new football partnership between the ASUN Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, the conferences announced on Thursday.
Luck is joining the league as a consultant and will start start immediately. He's the former athletic director at West Virginia and a former NCAA executive who has worked in various pro sports.
ESPN reported last month that the football members of the WAC and ASUN are banding together with the eventual aspiration to become a Football Bowl Subdivision conference. A formal name has yet to be chosen. The league hopes to begin play in 2024, which is expected to be in the FCS.
The hiring of Luck is another sign, per sources, that the league has adopted basic governance structure and is moving forward. The football-only partnership includes WAC football members Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian, Utah Tech, Southern Utah and Tarleton State. The Atlantic Sun members are Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, Central Arkansas and North Alabama. The 10th member is UT Rio Grande Valley, which is expected to join in 2025 for that program's first football season.
The leadership of the group will be Eastern Kentucky president David McFaddin and Tarleton State president James Hurley, who will serve as co-chairs.
"Oliver Luck is one of the most respected leaders in NCAA athletics," said Hurley in a statement. "He brings an incredible amount of knowledge, passion, and expertise to our common and unified goal. He will work collaboratively with our commissioners, presidents and athletic directors to ensure that our football conference is among the best in the nation."
The addition of Luck provides the aspirational group a credibility boost, as he has done everything from finish as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship while a star quarterback at West Virginia to play for the Houston Oilers. He's also a lawyer who worked as the CEO of NFL Europe, the president of the Houston Dynamo of the MLS and commissioner of the XFL. He's currently the chairman of Altius Sports Partners.
Luck will work collaboratively with the ASUN and WAC as they attempt to create this new pathway from the FCS to FBS, per sources. The timing of that potential move is uncertain. Luck and commissioners Ted Gumbart of the ASUN and Brian Thornton of the WAC have been in touch to aide in the merger of the league's football programs and help forge a path forward.