Mark Coyle was named the lone finalist for the U of M athletic director position on Wednesday, a designation that means it’s a matter of formality before he’s officially named to the post. Let’s get caught up to speed on Coyle, who is leaving the same job at Syracuse for this one:
1) His career is coming full circle. Before taking the Syracuse job, he was AD at Boise State and deputy AD at Kentucky. Prior to that, according to the U of M’s news release, he worked from 2001-05 in the Gophers athletic department, rising to the title of associate AD for external relations. In his time at the U, he was in charge of much of the marketing for Gophers athletics. “When you look at the success of the program over the past few years, there is a lot to be excited about,” Coyle said in a 2004 Star Tribune story, talking about the football program. “Our job is to help promote that success.”
2) Although he was only the AD at Syracuse for 10 months, Coyle presided over one of the most successful athletic seasons in school history. The men’s and women’s basketball teams both reached their respective Final Fours, while the field hockey team won an NCAA title. He also hired former Bowling Green coach Dino Babers as the school’s new football coach in December, a move that has drawn positive reviews. Coyle did enough to impress Boeheim, the longtime men’s basketball coach. Boeheim on Wednesday told Syracuse.com, “I really liked Mark Coyle. I thought he was really good. Thought he had a good grip on everything in a relatively short period of time. It’s shocking. I like him a lot and I thought he was doing great.”
3) He has an interesting link to Tubby Smith coming to Minnesota in 2007. Coyle was Kentucky’s deputy AD at the time. It was reported after Smith left Kentucky to come to Minnesota that Coyle helped spark the initial dialogue by telling Gophers officials that Smith was unhappy in Kentucky.
4) He came to Syracuse from Boise State with a reputation for generating revenue. Per this Syracuse.com post from when he was hired in 2015: “Coyle’s background in multimedia rights negotiating helped land him more than $42 million in revenue under a deal with Learfield Communications. He also helped bring in more than $40 million through the Bronco Athletic Association, including a $12.5 million gift to name the football stadium.”
5) He is a native of Waterloo, Iowa, and won a state championship in football as a wide receiver for Waterloo Columbus High in 1986. He later played college football at Drake, and according to this 2011 profile he thought he would wind up teaching high school as a career. But he rose through the administrative ranks and credits his home state for much of his success. “I just think Iowa fed the passion I have for sports,” said Coyle in that 2011 story. “What I really enjoy is how grounded people in Iowa are. People are who they are. That’s had a tremendous impact on me. In Iowa, I think it’s actions, not words. I learned that actions speak volumes.”