Former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck is leaving his high-ranking position at the NCAA to become commissioner of the XFL, the second edition of professional wrestling mogul Vince McMahon’s football league.
McMahon announced the hire Tuesday, four months after unveiling plans to relaunch the XFL, which folded in 2001 after its only season. The new XFL is scheduled to begin in 2020. Luck will start his new job July 1.
He said the XFL presents an opportunity to reimagine football, from how it is played to how it is delivered and consumed by fans.
“Opportunities like this come along very infrequently,” Luck told AP in a phone interview. “You’ve got Vince, who is a visionary. A well-capitalized effort. A guy who has passion for the game, but realizes that there are others who have lived and breathed the game for decades who he was able to bring on board.
“An incredibly fascinating time in terms of technology that exists to engage fans. All of those combined led me to believe the key ingredients to a successful launch are there to deliver great football, which I think was one of the failings of the original league.”
Luck said McMahon assured him the XFL will be a more serious endeavor than the first time around, when the league tried to use some of the WWE’s sexed-up, tough-talking antics to spice up second-rate football.
“Vince and others have really looked clear-eyed at the original XFL and acknowledged there wasn’t enough focus put on the game itself,” Luck said.
Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, played four seasons for the Houston Oilers after being drafted in the second round out of West Virginia in 1982. He graduated from University of Texas law school in 1987.
Luck went on to a successful career in sports management in the professional and college ranks. He joined the NCAA in 2014 as executive vice president of regulatory affairs and strategic partnerships.
Luck has served as president of the now defunct NFL Europe and was general manager for two of the league’s teams in Germany. He was later president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo, leading the franchise to two MLS Cup titles. Before joining the NCAA, he spent four years as athletic director of West Virginia, orchestrating the school’s move to the Big 12.
“Oliver and I share the same vision and passion for reimagining the game of football,” McMahon said in a statement. “His experience as both an athlete and executive will ensure the long-term success of the XFL.”
At the NCAA, Luck oversaw all NCAA enforcement, academic and membership affairs and athlete eligibility.
“Oliver Luck has been a key member of my leadership team and he has done a superb job at the NCAA over the last three years,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “His vision and insight have been invaluable to our schools and the national office. Oliver’s values and leadership skills helped keep the Association focused on supporting student-athletes.”
The XFL plans to have eight league-owned teams, 40-man rosters and a 10-week regular season during the NFL’s offseason. Host cities and stadiums are now being sought by the league through requests for proposals.