The leader of the newest professional sports league in the United States is a Saint Ignatius alumnus.
On Tuesday, the XFL introduced Oliver Luck '78 as its commissioner and CEO.
Founded in January, the XFL will launch in early 2020. The XFL, which played one season in 2001, plans to reimagine the game of football in a brand-new, fan-centric way. Vince McMahon (the majority owner, chairman and CEO of WWE) founded the league, and pegged Luck to run the XFL.
"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."
Indeed, Luck brings plenty of experience to the table. Following his time at Saint Ignatius and West Virginia University as a student-athlete, Luck was selected 44th overall by the Houston Oilers in 1982. Luck played quarterback for five seasons with the Oilers.
Luck earned a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, graduating cum laude in 1987. Luck then started an illustrious professional career in sports. Luck has served in a variety of high profile sports executive roles:
• President, NFL Europe
• President / CEO, Houston Sports Authority (helping to bring the Texans to Houston and to found the Houston Dynamo)
• Athletic Director, West Virginia University
• Member, College Football Playoff selection committee
• Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, NCAA
"It will be an exciting challenge," Luck said of his new job with the XFL. "Every step of my career, football has been present. Running teams in NFL Europe, launching an MLS team, and spending time in the college space has given me a pretty good foundation to do this job."
Luck will leave his leadership role at the NCAA in Indianapolis as the organization's first executive vice president of regulatory affairs. According to the NCAA's website, Luck "oversees all NCAA regulatory functions — enforcement, academic and membership affairs, and the Eligibility Center. He leads a team responsible for investigating potential violations involving member schools to uphold integrity and fair play among the NCAA membership."
"To be honest, I love my job with the NCAA," Luck said. "But this is an excellent opportunity to work for a well-capitalized new football league."
Luck will relocate from Indianapolis to the XFL's new headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. His son, Andrew, plays quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.
A 1978 graduate of Saint Ignatius, Luck starred at quarterback for the Wildcats and as a top student in the classroom. Luck guided the Cats to the 1976 and 1977 Senate Championships, cementing his place in the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame.
Luck, who returned to campus this weekend for his 40th reunion, believes that Saint Ignatius played an instrumental role in his formation.
"Saint Ignatius prepares you for life," Luck said. "The school focuses on teaching and training young men to be prepared for anything and everything.
"In my work life, I'm fascinated by the first jobs people have," Luck continued. "The pace of technology is incredible. So many jobs today did not exist 10 years ago. Saint Ignatius does a great job of giving students a platform and a foundation to handle anything in any given field. The school teaches students core principals, such as honesty, an analytical mind, and critical thinking, even though you don't realize it at the time. Saint Ignatius was extraordinarily helpful for me. I never anticipated having this unique job, but I'm prepared."
Luck will have a lot of fans at Saint Ignatius rooting for him and the XFL.
"Oliver is such a good guy, and one of the smartest people I've ever met. I know he will be successful no matter what," said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "He'll bring a professional attitude and a wealth of experience to the job. They couldn't have found a better guy for the job.
"Recently I asked him to speak at the Northeast District of Athletic Directors," Fitzpatrick continued. "He came in from Indianapolis, stayed with his mom, and spoke to the group. That's the kind of man he is. He has a lot going on, but he never forgets his friends and Saint Ignatius. We're excited to see how the XFL does."
On behalf of the Saint Ignatius Athletics, congratulations to Oliver and the XFL! We'll be rooting for you!