MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Leland E. Byrd, a former athletic director at West Virginia and the Mountaineers’ first 1,000-point scorer in basketball, has died, the university announced. He was 94.
Byrd died Wednesday at his home in Morgantown, WVU said in a statement.
West Virginia’s athletic program had considerable growth after Byrd was hired as athletic director in 1972. Women’s sports were elevated to the varsity level in his first year. By the time he left in 1979, the athletic operating budget had doubled. Byrd was directly involved in the planning, design and securing funding for a new football stadium in 1978. It opened two years later.
From 1979 to 1982, Byrd served as executive director of the Eastern Eight, which changed its name to the Atlantic 10. He later served as athletic director at Western Michigan from 1984 to 1992, when he retired.
Byrd was a member of the inaugural WVU Sports Hall of Fame induction class in 1991.
The Mountaineers won all 57 of their home games during Byrd’s four-year basketball career. He reached the 1,000-point mark in his final game in March 1948.
After graduation, Byrd was chosen by the New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA draft, spending one month with the team before bring drafted into the Army.
Byrd is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and five daughters. The statement said a celebration of life service will take place at a later date.