As has been the case more often this year than in pretty much any other in recent memory, an athletic director is standing behind an embattled head coach.
The most recent example is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, who released a statement Tuesday confirming that Dana Holgorsen will return as the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2014. The decision came after the athletic director and coach “met at length and reviewed this past season.”
“In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect,” Luck’s statement read, in part.
Left unmentioned by Luck was Holgorsen’s hefty buyout.
Reportedly, it would cost the university in excess of $11 million for Holgersen alone if he were fired without cause — and that doesn’t include buyouts for current assistants along with hiring an entire new staff. While the move from the Big East to the Big 12 was made in large part for the additional conference revenue, the financial hit the athletic department would take for cleaning house is much too prohibitive — especially for an athletic department that’s still not receiving a full share of league revenue.
After going 10-3 his first season in 2011, Holgorsen has gone 7-6 and 4-8 in the Mountaineers’ first two seasons in the Big 12.
Below is the full text of Luck’s statement:
First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season. Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field. Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University. We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.