Another SEC School is Uncomfortably Interested in Minnesota AD Mark Coyle

Photo: University of Minnesota

Mark Coyle was hired as the University of Minnesota Athletic Director in spring, 2016. He was tasked with fixing the school’s broken image, left by a previous regime full of perverts and scandal. Since then, the “student” portion of “student athlete” has thrived to a degree not seen before. Speaking of “degrees”, Minnesota student athletes achieved a 3.44 cumulative GPA last semester, the department’s highest EVER. Their 94% graduation rate over the last 6-year period is tied for 2nd in the Big Ten.

On the “athlete” side of the equation, Mark Coyle has raised every program he’s touched with new coaching hires. The football team is the heartbeat of every college athletic department. It’s also the only sport that makes a school any recognizable cash.

Thanks to Coyle’s hiring of PJ Fleck, the Minnesota Gopher football program is raising eyebrows at a national level not seen since the 60’s and 70’s. Back then, a “national brand” didn’t exist in college sports. The 11 wins the football team racked up in 2019 were the most in program history since 1904. Back then, they finished 13-0 vs a schedule that included a 146-0 victory over Grinnell College.

SEC Showing Interest

So it should be no surprise that the college football conference of America, the SEC, is showing major interest in Mark Coyle. Last month, it was Missouri who was awfully close to offering him a job. Coyle reportedly finished second in the Parker Executive Search Firm’s “recommendation process”. The Tigers hired the gal who finished first, Desiree Reed-Francois, as their new Athletic Director.

If Missouri’s interest had you nervous then the Kentucky Wildcats, where Coyle worked from 2006-2011 as a Deputy Athletic Director, sniffing around should have you in panic-mode. And according to the Pioneer Press’ Charley Walters, Coyle will be considered as Kentucky’s next AD, should he get an endorsement from head men’s basketball coach, John Calipari. The two worked together in Lexington from 2009-2011.

Insiders say Minnesota’s Mark Coyle was runner-up on the Parker Executive search firm’s recommendation for athletics director at Missouri, which the other day hired Desiree Reed-Francois from Nevada-Las Vegas. Coyle, a former deputy a.d. at Kentucky, is expected to receive consideration for the Kentucky a.d. job if he gets an endorsement from men’s basketball coach John Calipari. Current a.d. Mitch Barnhart is signed through next spring.

Pioneer Press – Charley Walters

Coyle’s Resume as Minnesota AD

In Minnesota, Coyle is known for his hire of PJ Fleck, which we’ve already discussed. But that doesn’t mean he’s ignored the rest of the department. Yes, he cut some of the school’s non-revenue sports during the pandemic. I promise, these SEC schools aren’t going to care about that.

Mark Coyle has hired a lot of coaches since he’s taken the department over and they all show in a positive light, as of September, 2021. In fact, while the final results won’t be in for years, it’s quite an impressive list of hires.

Coyle drove up I-94 and hired Bob Motzko away from SCSU before the 2019 season. Now, Gopher hockey is on the rise for the first time since moving to the Big Ten. Lindsay Whalen had no coaching experience when Coyle brought her on as the women’s head basketball coach a year earlier, a move that’s already paid off on the recruiting trail. Landing high-end Minnesota high school boys basketball recruits became a problem with Richard Pitino too, who was a holdover from the Teague years. Pitino was fired after a failed 2020 and Coyle turned to another young, homegrown and unproven coach, Ben Johnson, who has already landed three top hometown recruits for 2022.

Don’t let him go.

Letting Mark Coyle leave Dinkytown for Lexington Kentucky (or anywhere else) would be a massive mistake. I know he’s received a lot of heat from local media because he cut a few non-revenue sports. That’s not something Joan Gable and the Board of Regents should concern themselves with. Those sports aren’t going to suddenly make more money if Coyle isn’t here. This athletic department needs Mark Coyle much more than he needs it.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan