Lyons out as WVU athletic director, Gee comments on Neal Brown’s job status

Shane Lyons is no longer the athletic director at West Virginia University.
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 10:04 AM EST
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Shane Lyons is no longer the athletic director at West Virginia University.

Lyons had been athletic director since 2015.

President Gordon Gee says he plans to move swiftly to name a new athletic director and in the short-term has appointed Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives, as the interim director of athletics.

The University has retained the search firm Turnkey ZRG to assist in hiring a new athletic director with the goal of having a new director in place within three to four weeks.

“I deeply appreciate Shane’s leadership over the past eight years and I wish him well,” Gee said in a statement. “But with the ever-changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics, I believe this is an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to our program.”

Public calls for Lyons, along with head football coach Neal Brown, to be fired had been growing throughout the WVU’s lackluster football season.

The Mountaineers beat Oklahoma last week, bringing their overall record to 4-6 on the season and one loss from losing bowl eligibility.

Brown is 21-24 in four seasons at WVU.

It remains unclear exactly what the firing of Lyons, who hired Brown and gave him a contract extension, means for Brown’s long-term future as coach. However, Gee said no changes to the football program will be made in the coming weeks.

“We are supporting Coach Neal Brown and our team as we complete our season over the next few weeks,” Gee said. “We are aware there are some deficiencies, but we have not given up on the coach and the team, and they have not given up on each other. The evaluation of the football program will be the first task of our new athletic director and no changes will be made until that review has been completed.”

If Brown were to be fired this season, WVU would be on the hook for approximately a $17 million buyout.

Alsop, who will assume the interim athletic director duties immediately, served on WVU’s Board of Governors in 2013 before joining the University the next year as vice president for legal and governmental affairs and entrepreneurial engagement. He was named vice president for strategic initiatives in 2017. A two-time graduate of WVU, including the College of Law, Alsop oversees areas such as auxiliary and business services, corporate and government relations, dining services, talent and culture, and information technology services.

He also has been involved in the major planning for Athletics capital projects including renovations to the Milan Puskar Center and Mylan Park Track and Aquatic Center, navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic and collaborating on key decisions relating to Athletics’ major partners such as Learfield.

“I am confident that Rob will lead and assist our coaches, student-athletes and staff during this turning point,” Gee said. “I also know that he will lay the pathways necessary for a new athletic director to make a seamless transition into the role.”

This is a developing story, stick with 5 News for updates.