West Virginia has agreed to a split from athletic director Shane Lyons, sources told ESPN. Lyons has been West Virginia’s athletic director since 2015, but a combination of budget issues and the school’s troubled football program prompted a change in direction. The school is yet to make a decision on coach Neal Brown’s future, sources told ESPN.
Lyons’ departure underscores Brown’s uncertain status as he is 21-24 in four seasons and a defeat after winning the program’s third losing season in his four years.
Brown brought down Oklahoma to end WVU’s nine-game losing streak against the Sooners, but at 4-6 the Mountaineers remain far from reaching a bowl game.
Lyons is expected to be replaced on an interim basis by Rob Alsop, who is the school’s vice president for strategic initiatives, sources told ESPN. The placement of a member of senior management by University President Gordon Gee is an indication of how clearly the school wants to change direction.
The school is expected to start looking for a sporting director immediately, with recruitment expected to happen quickly when the school changes football coaches. In recent years it has become a common trend to speed up the search and match the new AD with a new trainer to help select.
Brown’s buyout, if sacked after the regular season – expected to be close to $17 million – threatens Lyon exit. Although there is an offset in the contract that could reduce that amount for WVU, there have been aggressive second guesses that WVU will grant Brown an overtime in April 2021 when Brown had an 11-11 record. That advanced his deal to 2026 and guaranteed a large chunk of the contract.
If WVU deviates from Brown this cycle, it will place a significant financial burden on the athletic department. One of the criticisms leveled at Lyons is that he was not creative and aggressive enough in finding new revenue streams, so someone with a strong business background could be in the hunt for WVU’s next sporting director.
Lyons is a distinguished administrator who came to West Virginia from Alabama, where he served as assistant athletic director from 2011-2015. Lyon’s career includes several prestigious appointments, having served as chairman of the Big 12 athletic directors, serving on the NCAA Division I council, and serving on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee. He is also part of the current NCAA Conversions Committee list.
Alsop, the interim AD, has a political background. He is a graduate of West Virginia, both undergraduate and law school. He served in various capacities for Earl Ray Tomblin and Joe Manchin while they were serving as Governor of West Virginia.
https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/35021718/sources-shane-lyons-west-virginia-ad-amid-struggles Shane Lyons out as West Virginia AD amid struggles