MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s search for a new director of athletics is expected to move rapidly, according to the school’s interim AD.
WVU announced that it has parted ways with now-former director of athletics Shane Lyons Monday morning. Lyons, a native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, had been in charge of WVU Athletics since 2015.
Filling in for Lyons on an interim basis is fellow Mountain State native Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for strategic initiatives. Alsop addressed reporters Monday afternoon, giving some details on what ultimately led to the school parting ways with Lyons, as well as what’s next for the university.
West Virginia has begun a nationwide search for Lyons’ replacement. WVU plans to move quickly.
“That search is already underway, and as our release indicated earlier, it’s anticipated that we will have a new athletic director within the next three to four weeks,” Alsop said.
West Virginia University has retained Turnkey ZRG to assist in the hiring. Turnkey ZRG, according to Alsop, is the same search firm that the Big 12 Conference used to hire Brett Yormark in June.
This ultimately leads to the question of “what’s next?” for WVU. Here’s what we know about the immediate future:
Alsop’s role as interim director of athletics
The Webster County native made it known he is not a candidate for the full-time AD position. He noted that while he is willing and able to assist the university in finding its director of athletics for the future, he is looking forward to returning to his usual day-to-day work with the university.
Over the coming weeks, Alsop will assist in the search process for Lyons’ replacement.
He will also be directly involved in all facets of WVU Athletics during his tenure as interim AD.
“I’m going to do everything I can to assist our staff, our coaches, and student-athletes with the resources they need to be successful both on and off the field,” said Alsop.
Alsop: It’s a “sought-after” position
Director of athletics positions within Power 5 athletics programs don’t become available every day. West Virginia has had just three — Ed Pastilong, Oliver Luck, and Lyons — since 1987.
For that reason and others, Alsop believes WVU’s opening will attract plenty of good candidates.
“Armed with the great history that WVU has, all of our great facilities, our student-athletes, our coaches and our conference, and importantly the terrific new deal that our leader Brett Yormark has negotiated,” said Alsop, “this will be a sought-after job, and I am confident that we will find a terrific candidate to be our new leader.”
West Virginia is home to one of the winningest football programs in the country, along with a Hall of Fame men’s basketball head coach, a baseball program that has qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice since 2017 after a twenty-year absence, a women’s soccer program that is almost annually making NCAA Tournament runs, and many other programs who annually compete on a national level.
He cited WVU’s brand, tradition, and strong fan base as three of the program’s biggest selling points.
“We have a strong tradition in the WVU athletic department, and Shane certainly built on that,” Alsop added. “My goal is to prepare the path for our new athletic director to take our strong foundation and build on it.”
What WVU is looking for
West Virginia’s interim AD said that, according to WVU President E. Gordon Gee, a fresh perspective will be needed by candidates. West Virginia is looking for a person to help the department navigate through future changes within collegiate athletics.
Alsop described that person as “innovative and thoughtful in an ever-changing world.”
“When you think about any type of leader, you want someone who knows, understands, appreciates the team that’s here, the culture that’s been developed, and that we continue on that trajectory of empowering individuals to do the best that they can,” Alsop said.
The interim athletic director noted that candidates who are media-savvy, and in tune with a younger audience, would be attractive for the position.
Timeline for the search, and who will make the decision
According to both Alsop and a statement from the university, the goal is to fill the position in the next three to four weeks. That would put a target date of early December in play, meaning a decision could be made in the days and weeks immediately following the end of the college football regular season.
That is the goal, but time will tell if WVU finds the right candidate during that time frame.
“It may be longer, but we think this will be a sought-after position, and will be able to identify the best candidates and come to a resolution moving forward,” said Alsop.
Alsop did state that Monday’s announcement was an “independent decision,” and is not “tied together from a fate perspective,” to WVU football head coach Neal Brown, or any assistant coaches within the program.
Gee will ultimately be the one to name Lyons’ successor. Turnkey ZRG will assist in the process, as will Alsop and others within the athletics department.