WACO, Texas - Mike Parsons, who has spent the past 35 years in West Virginia University's athletic administration, has been forced out of his current position as the school's deputy athletic director.Parsons on Tuesday confirmed that he was no longer employed by the university."My last day in the office was [Monday],'' Parsons said in a telephone interview.Parsons, 59, refused to answer questions regarding his departure, repeating, "I can't really comment on that.''
It is believed that in not discussing his departure, Parsons is following the terms of a settlement that was reached with the university. The late Bill Stewart agreed to a similar "gag order'' when he was forced out as the school's football coach in 2011, signing an agreement that stipulated he not discuss the matter publicly.But it is general knowledge that there have been tensions between Parsons and athletic director Oliver Luck, who inherited Parsons as his deputy when he became the school's athletic director in 2010. Parsons, who began his WVU career in 1979 as the school's sports information director, had worked in the same deputy AD position under former athletic director Ed Pastilong.Luck, contacted while attending Big 12 meetings, also refused to comment. "I can't give you any answers because I'm not authorized,'' Luck said.In general, if a settlement contains a gag clause it usually applies to both parties.
One source of that tension was no doubt the Mountaineer Sports Network. Within the last two years Luck has implemented and completed a plan to outsource WVU radio broadcasts and a wide range of other functions. IMG College, after a protracted and rather messy process, was granted the rights to the school's third-tier media rights.Parsons was in essence the CEO of the Mountaineer Sports Network, running it as part of his job as the deputy athletic director. That wasn't Parsons' only job, but it was certainly a significant part of it.But in recent months, Parsons had been stripped of almost all of his responsibilities. The most recent was when he was no longer permitted to accompany the university's teams on road trips. Generally an athletic department administrator goes along on those trips and many times it was Parsons.It was not immediately clear Tuesday if Parsons would be replaced. Given that most, if not all, of his duties had been assigned to others in recent months, there certainly exists the possibility that those responsibilities will continue to be shared by others and no one will be hired to fill the position.Parsons said Tuesday that he would begin looking for another job rather than take early retirement."My love for what I do is still there,'' Parsons said.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.