Boise State President Bob Kustra announced the hiring of Mark Coyle as the school’s new Athletic Director at a press conference Thursday afternoon. Coyle comes to Boise after spending seven years at Kentucky including a recent stint as deputy athletic director.
Kustra indicated in the press conference that Coyle moved immediately at the top of his list after the interview and was the only candidate that was brought to Boise. Kustra traveled to the homes of the other candidates during the interview process.
Coyle has significant experience in a fund-raising capacity and has managed much of the day-to-day operations at Kentucky, which has a 22-sport athletic department and an $83 million athletic budget. He will be tasked with finding new donors to continue the improvements to the athletic facilities, primarily the renovations of Bronco Stadium.
Another significant piece of Coyle’s experience is that he directed the scheduling of many of the athletic programs at Kentucky including the prestigious Wildcats basketball team. One challenge that former Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier continually faced was the difficulty of scheduling quality games for the Boise State football program.
Coyle’s experience in the scheduling capacity should work to the university’s advantage in finding new and exciting opportunities for exposure by finding big-name opponents for all sports. With Boise State’s conference affiliation in flux, Coyle will have his work cut out for him in that regard. The potential of a move to the Big East Conference is still on hold and in the press conference today Coyle spoke of having patience with the process.
One other remark from the press conference of immediate significance was Coyle’s admission that his top priority was doing whatever must be done to keep Chris Petersen as the football coach. Rumors are swirling that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero will be in Boise immediately following the Broncos’ regular season finale against New Mexico to begin the process of recruiting Petersen to the Pac-12.
Another area of emphasis in addition to retaining Petersen and working on the ambitious expansion plans of the football stadium is the need to increase the profile of Boise State’s other athletic programs. While there has been isolated success in several of the Olympic sports, there is still a stigma of being a “football school” as opposed to a well-rounded athletic department.
He inherits a program that is currently petitioning to have its sanctions reduced by the NCAA after three years of probation and additional scholarship and practice reductions were added on to the self-imposed sanctions that the football program put on itself. Several other sports were involved in the NCAA violations that ultimately got the entire department in hot water and cost Bleymaier his job.
Prior to his work at Kentucky, Coyle was an associate athletic director at the University of Minnesota. Much of his work for the Gophers involved marketing and promotion. He has previous experience working at Florida State University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in sports administration, as well as the University of Miami-Florida. The native Iowan achieved his Bachelor’s Degree from Drake University. Incidentally, he was not on hand at Boise State’s 108-64 thrashing of his alma mater in men’s basketball Wednesday night.
Coyle was focused and composed at his introductory press conference and spoke highly of Boise State’s academics as well as their athletics. He also intimated that he would like to achieve the same type of success, and longevity, as his predecessor Bleymaier. “I wanted to be at a school that is considered a destination and not a transition,” Coyle said. “I see Boise State as a destination.”
The appointment must be approved by the State Board of Education and when that happens, Coyle is expected to officially begin in January. According to Kustra, that will not stop Coyle from being intimately involved in any discussions regarding the potential move to the Big East or decisions about Chris Petersen’s future.
Curt Apsey, promoted to interim Athletic Director after the firing of Bleymaier, is expected to remain with Coyle in the department. Kustra instituted a reshuffling of the compliance department under his leadership in the wake of Bleymaier’s departure and it is unclear whether that will be transitioned back to Coyle in the future.
Coyle and his wife Krystan bring three children with them to the Treasure Valley, Grace, Nicholas and Benjamin. Krystan worked as a physical therapist in Lexington. The 43-year old Coyle will earn $325,000 annually as part of his five-year contract. He becomes just the fourth athletic director at Boise State since 1968. Bleymaier was on the job for nearly 30 years, preceded briefly by Mike Mullally. Mullally held the position for just two years after he took over for the legendary Lyle Smith.