Mark Coyle is leaving Syracuse University to become the Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota. Coming off of a historic athletic year for the Syracuse Orange this is an absolute shock. Less than a year after replacing Daryl Gross, Syracuse finds itself back at square one looking for another replacement to lead the athletic department.
So who will replace him?
Some names on this list you may have heard the last time around. Others may be new to you. Here are some potential candidates that could be a great fit for Syracuse:
Sitting Athletic Directors
Kevin Anderson, Athletic Director, Maryland
He seemed like a long shot the last time around and seemingly is this time around as well. Maryland has had a difficult time balancing their budget under Anderson's tenure, which makes this scenario rather unfeasible for Syracuse given their lower budget operations. Still, Anderson spent some time in New York State at Army prior to taking the Maryland gig so it could be something to follow.
Greg Christopher, Athletic Director, Xavier
This name caught my eye for a few reasons. He is an athletic director that has his eye on facility upgrades, something that has been talked about for years with the Carrier Dome. Christopher has unveiled a seven-year, $25 million dollar plan to add value to the fan experience, and would be more than welcomed on the hill. Having said that, he would be coming from a university that doesn't have a football program. That could be troubling considering the Orange have a new head coach while the football program is the biggest project to be had in the athletic department. He spent six-and-a-half years at Bowling Green, but being years removed from the position might raise red flags.
Brian Wickstrom, Director of Athletics, UL-Monroe
Wickstrom is another guy who has his eyes on upgrades. In 2015, Wickstrom's second year with ULM, the football program finished their fundraising goal and built an end zone facility, their program's first privately funded facility in school history. He has had terrific fundraising success at UL-Monroe, which could carry over nicely to Syracuse. His drawback is he appears to like to move around a lot, something that could be problematic given the current situation Syracuse has just found itself in.
Jim Sterk, Athletic Director, San Diego State
What makes Sterk a name to look out for? You guessed it: fundraising and financial stability. He faced state cutbacks during his tenure with the Aztecs, and has finished in the black each season. Sterk has SDSU fundraising at an all-time high, and he has experience at a power five school in Washington State. The downside to Sterk is his positions have all been out west, so it could prove to be difficult to lure him to the east coast.
Jeff Compher, Director of Athletics, East Carolina University
Jeff Compher is a man with football success on his resume. He currently resides as the chairman of the Athletic Directors Committee for the American Athletics Conference, and was named as one of four FBS Athletics Director-of-the-Year recipients. While it is tough to tell if the football program's success were due to his leadership and guidance, the play on the field can't be denied. He is a veteran administrator with many ties to power five conference programs.
Rising Athletic Administrators
Chris Kennedy, Senior Deputy Director of Athletics, Duke
Kennedy has been with Duke for almost 20 years, so this could be a tough pull for Syracuse. However, he has a great history with Duke which has a strikingly similar athletic program to the Orange. Despite being a Hoya graduate, Kennedy has a big role in an already successful athletic program in the ACC, and could be beneficial to the Orange.
Carla Williams, Deputy Director of Athletics, Georgia
This is another tough pull for Syracuse due to her loyalty to the Bulldogs (she graduated from UGA). However, if Syracuse could get her to come north, it would be a huge win. Williams was recently listed as one of the top-10 Senior Woman Administrators in the NCAA, a distinction that can't go unnoticed. She is at the top of her field nationally, and appears to be ready and able to take over an athletic program. Having gone to school and worked in the heart of SEC country, she would understand the importance of a solid football program and would no doubt keep a lot of focus on rebuilding Syracuse football.
Miechelle Willis, Deputy Director of Athletics, Ohio State
Willis is already an AD without the actual title. She is responsible for the oversight of every program aside from football and men's basketball, and has direct oversight over the athletic department budget. She has over 30 years of experience in athletics administration, and appears to be more than capable of handling an entire athletic department. Her record of oversight for the budget could be very valuable to Syracuse. Like many other administrators on this list however, she has been with Ohio State for 20 years, and could be tough to lure away.
Nick Carparelli, Senior Director of College Sports, Under Armour
Carparelli's name came up prior to Coyle's hire, and will undoubtedly surface again. He has prior experience as the Senior Associate Commissioner of both the Big East and American Athletic Conference, as well as having prior ties to Syracuse in the early 90s as the Assistant Director of Football Operations. With football a priority at any school (especially one with a struggling program like Syracuse), this could be a big sell for chancellor Kent Syverud. While we don't know how high his name was on the list of candidates for athletic director, we do know that he will likely be on that same list again this time.
Those are just a few names to keep an eye on as we do this all over again. Given the nature of Coyle's departure, it will be interesting to see what the focus is for the hiring process this time around.
Has a lot changed in the past year or should the qualities be the same that is sought in the next Athletic Director?