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Volume 26 No. 30
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Oliver Luck Discusses Decision To Leave NCAA For XFL Reboot

Luck said he was drawn to the infrastructure being put into place by the XFL

OLIVER LUCK, a key figure in the NCAA’s reform over the last three-plus years, is leaving college sports’ governing body to become CEO & Commissioner of VINCE MCMAHON’s XFL reboot. Luck said he could not pass up the challenge of doing what has never been done before -- launching and sustaining a spring pro football league. “I love college sports, but this is a special opportunity,” Luck told THE DAILY this morning. “I have a real passion for football and the opportunity to collaborate with Vince is awesome. He’s a tremendous entrepreneur with a track record of success.” Luck said he was drawn to the infrastructure McMahon is putting into place for the XFL, which plans to launch in early '20 with eight teams and a 10-week regular season. “The key ingredients in my mind are that there’s a well-capitalized launch, there’s a long-term approach with this, we’ve got time to put together the highest-quality coaching staffs,” Luck said. “And we can take our time to identify the best marketplaces. Because of the experience Vince has and the media savvy of the WWE, we can build this right, we can build it for the long term, and, most importantly, deliver great football.”

BEEN THERE BEFORE: Luck is no stranger to startups like the XFL. As the first President & GM of the expansion Dynamo in '06, Luck guided the team to that season's MLS Cup title. Earlier in his career, Luck also was instrumental in the start of the World League of American Football as Frankfurt’s GM in '91 and later served as NFL Europe President. More recently, Luck emerged as one of the most influential figures in college sports, first as AD at his alma mater, West Virginia, where he shepherded the school into the Big 12. In December '14, the NCAA announced that it had hired Luck as Exec VP/Regulatory Affairs, essentially making Luck the liaison between the Indianapolis HQ and its 1,100 member schools. During his time there, Luck provided the NCAA with a senior-level administrator who had experience on campus, something that previously was missing from President MARK EMMERT’s cabinet. “Almost everything I’ve done as a player, practicing law, launching franchises overseas, NFL Europe, launching the Dynamo, all of those experiences will provide me with the background to take on what’s going to be an enormous challenge,” Luck said.

WHAT COMES NEXT: Luck said he will work a 30-day notice before departing the NCAA near the end of the month. He and his wife will relocate to Stamford, Conn., where he will work from the XFL HQ. Three primary items will be front and center for Luck once he starts. He intends to assemble a medical advisory committee so that the league is “on the cutting edge for health and safety of our players." Also, the XFL is ready to get moving on city selection for its eight teams. Last week the league sent out RFPs to 30 cities. Luck would not say if the XFL will look at markets where CHARLIE EBERSOL’s Alliance of American Football has already established teams or not. “Our focus is on what we think we need to do,” Luck said. Lastly, Luck said the league will begin to establish a plan for how to implement technology into digital broadcasts and fan enhancements. Sources said James & Co., a firm that specializes in media, entertainment, sports and tech exec searches, worked with the XFL.