Luck not afraid of tackling big issues

If there is one thing West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has displayed during his short tenure as the Mountaineers’ top dog in the athletic department it is that the former WVU quarterback isn’t afraid to take on tough issues.

During his most recent visit to the Mid-Ohio Valley as part of the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s Mountaineer Caravan conducted at JP Henry’s Restaurant, Luck was more than ready to give his opinion on several topics. The following are just a couple.

There will be more in the days to come.

Unionization in college athletics: “I don’t think it makes any sense at all to have an employee/employer relationship with our student athletes.

“That would fundamentally change college athletics. I do believe that we should provide more benefits, whether a stipend or the full cost of tuition which you’ve seen so much written about. Perhaps some medical care beyond their college careers or educational opportunities after they have expired their eligibility. Pay for a masters degree or even law school.

“I do not think we should have salaried employees. That would just end everything we love about college sports. You will have a cascade of unintended consequences.

“Because, when you have employees, you have all sorts of rules like worker’s compensation, agents, walkouts, and EEOC complaints and all sorts of things that I don’t think have a place in college athletics.

“I do, and I want to emphasis this, I do think we need to offer some additional benefits for our young athletes.

“Just what those benefits will be will be a topic for conversation for some time.”

College football’s playoff system: “It’s going to be a blast. I’m on the committee so, obviously, there is a lot of work that is going to come my way. Particularly in October when the first football poll is to be released the last weekend of the month.

“I’m sure it’s going to be controversial. I’m sure there are going to be many fan bases that will be upset because their favorite team is ranked fifth or sixth when they think they should be third or fourth.

“But, the people on the committee are a joy to work with and they are all high-caliber folks who know a lot about the game. People like Condoleezza Rice, Archie Manning, Tom Osborne. People who know the game well.

“Of course we already have people saying that we should have eight, or we should have 16, but I just tell them ‘calm down and let’s see how four works’.

“That’s the system right now and let’s make sure it works well. We can talk about that other down the road.

“The important thing it is an improvement over the BCS.

“The BCS got it right, usually, but with this new system those four teams are going to decide it on the field. It’s kind of hard to argue with that.”

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com