Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

AP: BSU names Coyle new athletic director

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Boise State University has hired Mark Coyle as its new athletic director. University President Bob Kustra hired Coyle on Thursday to take over for Gene Bleymaier, who was let go in August after serving 29 years as the head of Broncos sports programs. Coyle has been deputy athletic director at Kentucky. Kustra fired Bleymaier in the wake of sanctions imposed by the school stemming from an NCAA investigation. The NCAA placed Boise State on probation for three years and imposed other sanctions for major violations by the football program and other sports. Coyle will have a series of challenges: Keeping football coach Chris Petersen from jumping ship for a larger program, raising millions for ambitious facility expansion plans and keeping Boise State's nose clean with college sports' governing body. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Boise State picks Coyle as new athletic director
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Boise State University President Bob Kustra on Thursday named Mark Coyle as the school's new athletic director, describing the 43-year-old as a "rising star" and the right choice to lead Bronco athletics in an era where fundraising and brand development is just as essential as winning games.

Coyle previously served in assistant roles at athletic departments at the University of Kentucky, where he was in charge of fundraising, and the University of Minnesota. He'll earn $325,000 annually, plus incentives, as part of a five-year contract.

At a press conference at Bronco Stadium, Coyle highlighted his goals of broadening Boise State's fundraising base, strengthening other sports programs at a school known almost solely for football and its blue turf, and keeping football coach Chris Petersen in town.

"My No. 1 goal is to keep Chris Petersen at Boise State University," Coyle said. "He's raised the bar. How do we help him move the needle and take it to the next level?"

Kustra said he knew Coyle was the right fit just moments after meeting him for the first time. Coyle was the only candidate Kustra brought to campus for an interview.

Coyle actually e-mailed Kustra about the opening in August, just days after Gene Bleymaier was fired amid an NCAA rules violations investigation after serving 29 years as the head of Broncos sports programs.

"He will bring best practices from his school and conference experience, both Big 10 and Southeastern Conference, to the business of running an athletic department in these very compliBcated times," Kustra said.

Kustra fired Bleymaier in the wake of self-imposed sanctions imposed by the school stemming from the NCAA investigation.

The NCAA then placed Boise State on probation for three years and imposed other sanctions for violations committed by the football program and other sports.

Coyle faces a series of challenges in his new job besides keeping Petersen, with a 71-6 record, from jumping ship for bigger schools and more lucrative wages. Boise State is in the process of raising $100 million for ambitious plans to boost its stadium from 34,000 to 54,000 seats and the school is now focused on keeping its nose clean with sports' governing body.

After moving this year to the Mountain West Conference, Boise State is already in talks with the Big East about another move amid a shake-up in collegiate athletics. Coyle won't start until January, but he'll play a role in the decision where the Broncos will land, Kustra said.

Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky's athletic director, said he was excited for his protégé's move.

"Mark has been a great asset to the University of Kentucky over the last seven years and I'm happy that he's getting this opportunity," Barnhart said. "The work he's done in terms of facilities and donor relationships has been tremendous. Boise State made a great choice and he'll be missed by the Wildcat family."

Coyle was accompanied at the press conference by his wife, Kristen.

He said from the time they met 15 years ago, they'd set his eventual ascension to an athletic director job as their goal. He called Boise State a destination, not a stop on the way to somewhere else.

"For 15 years, we talked about this day and this moment," Coyle said.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Coyle played wide receiver for the football team at Drake University. Drake's basketball team was beaten by Boise State 108-64 on Wednesday.

Coyle didn't attend the game, but he told Kustra Thursday after learning the score: "That's not a nice way to welcome me."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: