U of M regents officially approve new athletic director

- The approval of new athletic director Mark Coyle’s contract may have been a formality, but it is a big step to more functionality for sports at the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota board of regents officially approved the appointment of Coyle Friday at the McNamara Alumni Center. Coyle has been on campus for only a few days and he is already making an impression on university faculty.

“I had the opportunity to have breakfast with him the day before he was hired as part of the vetting process,” Minnesota Board of Regents chair Dean Johnson said. “I found him to be a human, genuine, roll up your sleeves and get the job done kind of person.”

Coyle comes to Minnesota at an interesting time in athletics. Funds are still being raised for the new “Athletes Village” on campus and recent scandals have popped up with the Gophers men’s basketball team.

Despite these challenges, the Gopher brass believes the right guy is in place to complete every facet of the task at hand.

“He raised $140,000,000 at Kentucky and he did a great job of settling that situation down at Syracuse,” said Johnson. Syracuse spent the 2015/2016 men’s basketball season recovering from a self-imposed post-season ban, along with penalties issued by the NCAA for multiple program violations. 

“He is just a fully vetted and professional athletic director,” University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler said. “He is the type of guy we needed to bring to Minnesota.”

The $850,000 proposed salary to get Coyle to Minnesota is much more than previous athletic directors at the university, but regents see the cost as a price to pay to get athletics to the next level.

“We looked at the A.D. salaries in the Big Ten and we were at $450,000, the lowest in the Big Ten. The highest was around $1,500,000 or $1,600,000,” Johnson added. “I took a step back and did the averaging, which is around $900,000. We knew that if we were going to play in the big arena, we would need someone of that caliber.”

Coyle has been selected as athletic director, but the University of Minnesota is also trying to keep another A.D. candidate on staff.

President Kaler told FOX 9 that he is trying to keep former interim A.D. Beth Goetz with the Gophers, but he knows that Minnesota’s offer to her could be one of many.

“I would love her to remain with Gopher athletics,” Kaler said. “I am sure she will have opportunities elsewhere, but we would love her to stay.”

Coyle’s first day on the job is June 1.

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