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Going First

I had the great opportunity to host Shane Lyons, WVU’s director of intercollegiate athletics and associate vice president, at the last Connect with Clay town hall meeting.

Shane is a great guy, big in stature, big in personality and big in personal and professional values.

He is another native son coming home. He is from Parkersburg, and he brings a wealth of experience back to our state and to WVU.

He has been employed both in the conference offices of the NCAA and in several universities. The last university, and most notable athletic powerhouse, was Alabama, where he was deputy athletic director.

When asked about the Big 12 versus the SEC conference, he commented that both are great conferences with great traditions and fans.

A lot of fans.

He also says that the best time to be an athletic director is now, when the football team is undefeated (the season has not started yet).

He joked that after most games he has 1.8 million consultants and coaches in West Virginia that are happy to share their wisdom in how to make the team and outcome better.

We talked about his goals and leadership style, which is servant leadership.

He focuses on the experience of the student-athletes and notes that the average GPA of all athletes at WVU is 3.1. Since most athletes will not be professionals at their sports, providing the best academic experience for them is critical.

When asked about nutrition, he stated that there are full time nutritionists for the athletes and that advances in nutrition, sleep and training have improved performance as well as the health of the student-athletes.

  • His favorite restaurant – Oliverios.
  • His favorite television show – ESPN.
  • His athletic activity – elliptical machine. His knees, ankles and hips are in need of help for more dynamic athletics.
  • His family – wife Emily, older son Cameron, and younger daughter Brooke. 

His family has moved many times. Their motto: move and adapt. Cameron is interested in playing college football, and Lyons – being on both sides of the equation, now as the father of a prospect – said it has been interesting.

When we talked about the pressure on young athletes to perform, he shared that there is a coaching philosophy that coaching would be perfect if every young person was an orphan (indicating the complexity of dealing with some parents.)

Lastly, we talked about Ginny Thrasher, the WVU student who won our country’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympics. He shared that she is a great student, a model person and made him so proud to represent our university and country.

Ginny Thrasher, WVU student and 2016 Olympic Shooter

Sharon Martin, our vice president for communications and brand guru texted him – “that is what we mean by Mountaineers go first!”

By recruiting great leaders and people like Shane, I can tell you, it won’t be the only time we will be #GoingFirst in the future.