Thoughts on athletic director Mark Coyle’s departure from Syracuse

Mark Coyle left SU after less than a year at the helm
Mark Coyle left SU after less than a year at the helm

On Wednesday afternoon, Syracuse University announced that athletics director Mark Coyle was leaving.  “Mark Coyle has informed the University, that for family reasons, he is leaving the University for a position at Minnesota. We wish him well,” Kevin Quinn, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs said in a statement.

With that shocking news in mind, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng gave their reactions:

Jim Stechschulte: During Mark Coyle’s less than eleven months as AD, the Syracuse University athletic department settled into a positive path marked with highlights, from the achievements of its athletes to the dedication of a new practice facility. And the final result of that brief tenure remains to be seen.

While he brought in needed stability, Coyle’s abrupt departure leaves the athletic director job slightly less appealing than what it had been when he accepted the position. Regardless of the reason, it’s never good to have such quick turnover and Coyle handled most of the tasks athletic director candidates traditionally find most appealing.

Coyle made Mike Hopkins the men’s basketball head coach in waiting and hired Dino Babers as the new head coach of the football team, filling the two biggest jobs at Manley Field House. Add on that the construction of the Ensley Center wrapped up prior to his tenure (Coyle was on hand for the dedication of it and 44 Plaza) and there is really only one signature project remaining for the athletic department – what to do with the Carrier Dome.

And with the hiring process at zero (look for Pete Sala to be named the interim director of athletics once more), it will be months until an official successor is found. That person will have to be brought up to speed on existing plans and will undoubtedly have thoughts to add. So the future of the Dome will continue to loom own the horizon, just as it does on the Syracuse skyline.

Just as it will on the mind of the next athletic director.

» Related: For Syracuse football coach Dino Babers, it’s about ‘growing’ Orange program

Wesley Cheng: I never fault anyone for moving along with their career. For Mark Coyle, there were lots of reasons for him moving on. Presumably, he will get more money to be at Minnesota. He will be closer to his mentor and one-time Minnesota AD Joel Maturi. He’s also built a career that has centered around the Midwest and has roots in Iowa.

These are all good reasons to leave.

But my problem with Coyle is in the execution of his departure. As we all know, football coaches and athletic directors are inextricably tied together from the moment the AD offers the coach the job. This was no different in Coyle’s case when he hired Dino Babers.

And how did Babers find out about Coyle’s departure? Not from Coyle. He had to find out from ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. “Are you serious?” he said to McMurphy. “No comment.”

That no comment is all the comment you need. Coyle owed Babers a conversation before the story broke. He owed it to the person he staked his professional reputation on at Syracuse.

“Dino, I’m sorry but there’s a better opportunity in Minnesota for me. I’m taking the AD job there starting tomorrow. I wanted you to hear it from me before the story broke.”

Was it that hard to say those three sentences?

As a side note, the prevailing thought is that Babers will leave if he’s able to point Syracuse football in the right direction. No matter who Syracuse hires, Babers will not be the person that the athletics director has picked. That can only hasten Babers’ departure.

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