Pastilong Leaves Big Shoes to Fill
TRIADELPHIA – Some of the greatest Mountaineers of all-time agree: Incoming West Virginia University Athletics Director Oliver Luck has some big shoes to fill.
Those, of course, are the loafers of retiring Moundsville native Ed Pastilong, who has held the post since 1989 and overseen unprecedented growth in the school’s athletic program.
”What a wonderful career,” said Moundsville’s Bob Hummell, a Mountaineers basketball star alongside a young Wil Robinson in the late 1960s. ”He did so much for West Virginia. If you just look at it today. Who would have ever thought? Women’s basketball in the Top 15? Look where they are in the (Learfield Sports Directors Cup) standings (25th). You can go on and on.
”So he put through some good times and some tough times. Look at the Big East Conference today. I think he had a wonderful, wonderful career. And I think he goes out on a very, very high note. That’s all anybody can ask of an employee.”
”Hot Rod” Hundley, a Mountaineers basketball legend who starred in the 1950s and had his number 33 retired last winter, is happy to call Pastilong a friend.
”I loved Eddie Pastilong,” Hundley said. ”I remember I had a basketball camp at Salem College when he was at that school working on his degree. He drove a bus for me to the swimming pool every day for the kids in the camp. I had a lot of fun with him. We go back too. He’s been a friend a long time. He’s obviously done a good job at West Virginia with the teams they’ve been able to put out there.”
Jay Jacobs, a color analyst for Mountaineers basketball broadcasts, has been following the athletic teams at the school for decades. He, too, is a former Mountaineers basketball player, as he played with Jerry West and Willie Akers in the ’50s. With that kind of history, he clearly has a deep affinity for the school and its direction.
He thinks Pastilong worked wonders during his time in charge at WVU.
”If you look at his hires, he hired Huggs (Bob Huggins), John Beilein. When John came in, the basketball program – Gale Catlett had left it – and it was in a little bit of shambles,” Jacobs said. ”John built it up. He was good at the right time. Huggs has come in and we know what he’s done in three years here. He’s the best coach that I have seen or worked for as a broadcaster. He’s so talented, and the kids love him.
”Bill Stewart, everyone wants to say ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye.’ But you can’t argue with his record. Look at Linda Burdette and gymnastics. We’ve had great cross-country.”
Pastilong hired all of them, along with wildly successful women’s soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown and Mike Carey, the architect of the turnaround inside the women’s basketball program.
Jacobs was doing radio and TV when Luck played quarterback in the early 1980s, and he certainly thinks a lot of the former WVU quarterback.
”If you’re going to lose somebody to retirement, and you want somebody to come in that can manage it, you want Oliver Luck,” Jacobs said. ”Eddie Pastilong did a nice job and he’s moving on to retirement. Now Oliver steps in. There’s a good sound foundation that Eddie left him with the program.”
The reason all of those guys were in the same place Thursday was because WVU graduate Bob Robinson invited them to the Ohio Valley to be a part of the Robinson Auto Group’s six-day grand opening celebration at The Highlands.
”Eddie did a terrific job,” Robinson said. ”The next guy is going to have a heckuva time topping what has happened under Ed’s watch.”
For a while, Luck will work right alongside his predecessor. Pastilong announced his retirement in February 2008 and will serve as athletics director emeritus through 2012.
Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org