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Mark Coyle & The Double-Standard of College Athletics

Syracuse's AD is gone after less than a year on the job. It's a reminder that the people who make all the money get to do as they please but the people generating all the money don't.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

I'm going to admit that if I take a step back for a moment, I'm torn about the fact that Mark Coyle is leaving Syracuse Athletics after less than a year to reportedly take the same job with Minnesota.

On one hand, I've always believe that at the end of the day you look out for yourself. Not in a Machiavellian way but in a "hey, if someone shows up with a bag of money, it's totally cool for you to take it to support your family" kind of way. I would assume that Minnesota, who has been battling more than a few athletic department black eyes since the last guy resigned after being found out as a mega-creep, loaded up a dump truck for Coyle and made an offer he couldn't refuse.

On the other hand, it reminds me how much we chastise the student-athletes in Coyle's charge over their own personal choices about their careers and future. Look at how many Syracuse Orange fans barked at Malachi Richardson when he decided to give the NBA Draft a shot (without even closing the door). As if Richardson is required to be here or must put the needs of a collective of strangers over the needs of himself and his family. Listen to the way some people talk about graduate transfers or bemoan student-athletes wanting to get a percentage of the money they generate or deciding that they want to transfer from one school to another.

Any kind of organization has a culture and that culture starts at the top. How the person in charge handles themselves trickles down and affects those who work under them, all the way down until you get to those on the ground floor. Mark Coyle left negotiated his exit in secret and is now leaving under a dubious cloud where "loyalty" and "disrespect" are being bandied about.

Sure, you could choose to look at it that way. That Coyle had a responsibility to at least spend a few years in Syracuse, NY. At least get the wheels moving on whatever plans he had for us. At least lay some groundwork for the student-athletes who look to him to guide their careers.

But I suppose you could look at it another way. That Coyle was never going to consider Syracuse a destination. It was always just a stop on the road to "something better." The same way I'm 95 percent sure Dino Babers looks at it. And that doesn't mean I think either of them are bad people. They're just people.

So maybe the ultimate goal isn't to chastise Mark Coyle but stop chastising the student athletes who ensure guys like Mark Coyle have a job. The goal should be to understand that if a player wants to leave early to go pro or wants to transfer to a different school in order to get more playing time or earn a master's degree, we should shake their hand and wish them well. Because that's how life works. We all make choices for ourselves in the end. It just so happens that we wear the same t-shirts in this moment, but no one should be forced to feel bad for choosing what's best for themselves when it doesn't hurt anyone else.

Fare thee well, Mark Coyle. We'll remember you for...well, to be honest, nothing. Your one year with Syracuse was a grand success but it's hard to say you had much to do with that. DOCTOR Gross laid the foundations for all the SU women's programs and Olympic sport programs. Coyle was simply the resume bullet point beneficiary.

The real success stories are the men and women who actually went out there and won those games and earned those championships. So let's focus on giving them the support they need and accepting their decisions instead of condemning people for doing what they do...