West Virginia forces out athletic director Shane Lyons, casting further doubt on coach Neal Brown's future

West Virginia forces out athletic director Shane Lyons, casting further doubt on coach Neal Brown’s future

West Virginia has parted with athletic director Shane Lyons, the university announced Monday. Lyons leaves amid mounting pressure, which reached a head Sunday during a tense meeting with school president E. Gordon Gee, who offered Lyons a chance to relinquish his athletic director role but stay on as the school’s associate vice president, according to West Virginia MetroNews.

Rob Alsop, a university vice president for strategic initiatives, has been named interim AD while a search begins for Lyons’ replacement.

“I deeply appreciate Shane’s leadership over the past eight years and I wish him well,” said Gee 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.”

Lyons is West Virginia alum and a native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, who spent five years as an associate athletic director at Alabama before he was hired at his alma mater in 2015. Lyons also worked in the compliance departments at Texas Tech (1998-01 ) and the ACC (2001-11).

Though Lyons’ departure comes as a result of the quickly changing landscape in college athletics, it nevertheless brings more uncertainty to the future of football coach Neal Brown, who was hired (with Gee’s blessing) prior to the 2019 season after after leading Troy to a 35-16 record, including three straight 10-win seasons from 2016-18. Things have not worked out in Morgantown, however, despite the fanfare and Brown’s success running a smaller program. Brown is 21-24 and has not had a winning season other than the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign when the Mountaineers went 6-4 and won the Liberty Bowl.

WVU has already hired a search firm as it looks for its new AD, which it hopes to have in place in the next three to four weeks. While the new AD’s first line of business will be evaluating the state of the football program, the Early Signing Period begins Dec. 21, meaning Brown’s future could be decided in mid-December one way or the other.

“We are supporting Coach Neal Brown and our team as we complete our season over the next few weeks,” said Gee. “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.”

Coming off a win over Oklahoma in Week 11, the Mountaineers are 4-6 this season with a 2-5 record in Big 12 play.

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