Skip to main content

Scholarship established in honor of former WVU Athletic Director Leland Byrd

No thumbnail image for this story
Dr. Leland Byrd and his wife, Elizabeth, with their five daughters and two grandchildren on Leland Byrd Day in Matoaka.
Download full-size

West Virginia University students from Mercer County will benefit from a scholarship established in honor of Mercer County native and WVU’s 5th Director of Athletics, Dr. Leland E. Byrd.

Byrd was a WVU scholar-athlete and All-American basketball player who lettered in the 1945-48 seasons. He played for his father, Roy Byrd, at Matoaka High in Mercer County before enrolling at WVU in 1944.

He received all three degrees from WVU – bachelor’s (’48), master’s (’53) and doctorate (’67), and went on to serve as WVU’s Director of Athletics from 1972-79.

The Dr. Leland E. Byrd Scholarship, established by Byrd’s daughter, Becky Lofstead, and husband Dan, will benefit undergraduate and graduate students from the area of the state in which Byrd grew up.

“Dad has shared so many wonderful childhood memories with us of his life growing up in Matoaka, and has taken all of us daughters — and some of the grandkids — there on various occasions over the years,” Lofstead said. “This scholarship speaks to his love for West Virginia University and gives young men and women from his boyhood home a chance to pursue their dream of a college education – just as he did.”

Byrd turned 90 years old in April and, in his honor, the Matoaka Town Council passed a resolution proclaiming April 8, 2017, as Leland Byrd Day in Matoaka. Signs recognizing the town as his boyhood home will also be erected.

The recipient of many honors, Byrd was inducted into the West Virginia Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1986, the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and the WVU School of Physical Education Hall of Fame in 1989. He was also named the School of Physical Education’s outstanding alumnus in 1996.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at WVU introduced the Leland Byrd Leadership Award in 2010. This award is presented to the top WVU men’s and women’s basketball players for leadership both on and off the court.

Recipients of the Dr. Leland E. Byrd Scholarship will be determined by the WVU Office of Financial Aid.  Contributions may be sent to: WVU Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 1650, Morgantown, WV. 26507-1650 to the attention of Tim Bolling. Please note: Byrd Scholarship 2S572, with contribution. 

The gift creating the Dr. Leland E. Byrd Scholarship was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The private fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

DR. BYRD’S BRIEF BIO

After graduation in 1948, Byrd served a brief stint with the New York Knickerbockers before being drafted in the U.S. Army. His first coaching/teaching position was at Hinton High School, where he served as head basketball coach and assistant football coach from 1953-1955.

From 1955-1966, he was at Glenville State College, serving as head basketball coach, assistant football coach, athletic director and head of Physical Education.  In 1966, Byrd accepted a position as assistant athletic director at Miami Dade Junior College North, and in 1969 was named athletic director at Miami Dade Junior College South, a post he held until 1972.

In 1972, at age 44, he was hired to replace the retiring “Red” Brown as WVU’s director of intercollegiate athletics.

He served as executive director of the Eastern Eight from 1979 to 1982, when it expanded from eight to 10 teams and changed its name to the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 1984, Byrd left the conference to become athletic director at Western Michigan University. He retired from WMU and intercollegiate athletics in 1992.

Today, Leland and Elizabeth reside in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Morgantown. They have five daughters — Debbie, Becky, Cindy, Mary and Nancy —all born in West Virginia, and seven grandchildren.

-WVU-

hk/bl/04/27/17

CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
304.284.4056; wnevin@wvuf.org

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.