On Monday, West Virginia University decided to change course with regards to their athletic department. It was announced, former Director of Athletics Shane Lyons was resigning, amid pressure from other top university officials.

For the time being, Lyons’ successor is Rob Alsop. Alsop was the Vice President for strategic strategies for WVU, a position he was appointed to in 2017. Alsop is a two-time graduate of WVU, and will now serve as the interim athletic director as WVU completes their search for Lyons’ permanent replacement.

Lyons had been in his role since 2015. Also a graduate of WVU, Lyons was well-liked within the university and recognizes the relationships many had with Lyons.

“Change is never easy,” Alsop said. “There’s a lot of folks in the athletic department who are sad because of their relationship with Shane.”

The decision to part ways with Lyons has come due to the changing landscape of college athletics, now compared to in 2015 when Lyons was hired.

“The past few years of college athletics have seen a lot of change,” Alsop said. “We’ve seen from the portal, to name, image, and likeness, to another round of conference realignment. President Gee in thinking about this, decided that with this ever-changing landscape, that it would be a good opportunity to find a fresh perspective for the program.”

West Virginia University has already begun their search, partnering with search firm Turnkey ZRG to assist with the search. Turnkey ZRG is a company which helps place high-level executives in positions in the sports and entertainment industry.

“This search firm was retained by the Big 12 Conference in the search for Commissioner (Brett) Yormark, so President (Gordon) Gee has a working familiarity of the team,” Alsop said. “We’ve asked our search firm to cast a wide net for the best candidate for West Virginia University.”

Alsop said the goal is to try and finish this search in the next three-to-four weeks, although there is no official timeline.

“It’s anticipated we’ll have a new athletic director within the next three-to-four weeks,” Alsop said. “This will be a sought after job, I’m confident we will find a terrific candidate to be our new leader.”

President Gee will ultimately make the final decision on who the new leader for Mountaineer athletics will be, but Alsop said he will be involved during the process.

“President Gee, under our governance structure will be the one who is ultimately responsible for hiring an athletic director,” Alsop said. “He’s someone who, he’s going to engage with the appropriate stakeholders and go out and get the best candidate he can find and he’ll go through that process. I will be privileged to take part in it, but it will be his decision.”

Alsop added, “if you know President Gee, he’s always looking towards now and the future as the way to move the institution forward,” Alsop said. “This has been over the past few days, that this has really become a serious consideration of the need to move forward. President Gee is very thoughtful, but he is also action oriented.”

Alsop said his day-to-day operations will include assisting the current staff members in the athletic department and be of help wherever he is needed.

“What I’ve told our folks, that if there’s something that our team needs or a meeting I need to sit on moving forward on, that I’ll be present to be a helpful force for them. I will also be involved in the search process,” Alsop said.

Alsop would add current head football coach Neal Brown’s status is not tied to the decision of Lyons. Alsop said this university still believes in Brown, and there will not be a decision made until after the season, but these two decisions are completely separate.

“I know there’ll be some speculation that this is the first two of two shoes to drop and I just want to disavow that. This is an independent decision,” Alsop said.

West Virginia football is coming off a 23-20 victory over Oklahoma, and Alsop believes the Mountaineers are still in a good place despite their 4-6 record.

“When you watch the game this weekend, it was pretty clear… those student-athletes, those kids have not given up on each other or on this season and they have not given up on their coaches. And neither have we,” Alsop said. “We have not given up on our head coach, our assistant coaches, or those players. We’ve got two games to go and we intend and I intend during this interim period to support them in any way I can.”

Alsop said when the new athletic director is hired, they will do an overall evaluation, which could include making a decision on Brown’s future.

“As you might imagine, when a new athletic director comes in, that individual will do an evaluation of the general direction for the department,” Alsop said. “We are all not satisfied with the wins and losses, but President Gee and our new athletic director will take an appropriate long-term look at the direction of all of the Department of Athletics and make a thoughtful decision moving forward.”