West Virginia has agreed to part ways with athletic director Shane Lyons, who has been with the school since 2015.
A combination of budgetary concerns and the school’s challenging football program led to a change in direction. Sources told Sportzshala that the school has yet to decide on the future of coach Neil Brown.
Lyons’ departure highlights Brown’s uncertain status as he is 21-24 in four seasons and one loss from setting the program’s third losing record in his four years.
Brown beat Oklahoma to snap a nine-game WVU losing streak at the Sooners, but at 4-6, the Mountaineers are still far from a bowl game.
The school announced that Lyons has been temporarily replaced by Rob Alsop, its vice president of strategic initiatives. The appointment of someone from the leadership team of university president Gordon Gee indicates how clearly the school wants to change direction.
The school said that Gee plans to hire a new athletic director soon. The hiring is expected to happen quickly if the school does make a replacement football coach. In recent years, it has become a common trend to speed up the search and pair the new AD with the new coach they help select.
Brown’s buyout if fired after the regular season, expected to be worth nearly $17 million, looms over Lyon’s exit. While there is compensatory language in the contract that could reduce that amount for WVU, there was aggressive speculation that the school granted Brown an extension in April 2021 when he had an 11-11 record. This extended his deal until 2026 and guaranteed most of the contract.
If WVU walks away from Brown this cycle, it would be a major financial burden on the athletic department. One of the criticisms of Lyons is that he was not resourceful and aggressive enough in finding new sources of income, so someone with a strong business background could be a desirable candidate for WVU’s Athletic Director.
Lyons is a respected administrator who came to West Virginia from Alabama, where he served as deputy athletic director from 2011 to 2015. Lyons’ career includes several prestigious appointments as he led the Big 12 Athletic Directors Panel and served on the NCAA Division I Board and its football oversight committee. He is also part of the NCAA Transformation Committee.
Alsop, the interim chief of staff, is of political origin. He received his bachelor’s degree and law school from West Virginia. He served in various roles for Earl Ray Tomblin and Joe Manchin in their previous terms as governor.