UMN Athletics

Fact Sheet

Financial Mismanagement & Administrative Bloat under University of Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle

  • Mark Coyle arrived at the University of Minnesota as the new Athletic Director in May 2016
  • Minnesota has 700 student-athletes with 529 of these receiving financial aid of some sort in 2019. The department employs 300 people.
  • The top 100 earners in athletics take home $22.5 million in base salaries
  • Adjusted for inflation, in 2012 support staff and administrative pay in central athletics was $10 million. By 2019, that figure has ballooned to $21 million under Coyle’s leadership.
  • Coyle personally takes home $1 million in salary per year + $225,000 in incentives. His base salary is more than University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz combined.
  • When Coyle arrived in 2016, his department expenditures were $110 million. In 2019, they had ballooned to $130 million. Revenue increased over this same span due to television rights but nearly all new revenues were spent and, as such, the department saved nothing in a “rainy day” fund.
  • Before the pandemic, 10 percent of departmental expenditures went to servicing outstanding departmental debt caused by facilities upgrades.
  • As of February 2020, Coyle’s Athletics Department had still not raised all the money necessary for its “Athletes Village” facility which opened in 2018. The project cost $166 million and $44 million was still unraised in February 2020.
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Athletics now faces a minimum $70 million deficit and is asking for a bailout from the university to plug the entire budgetary hole. No significant staff reductions or furloughs have taken place beyond the salary cuts mandated for all university employees making over $60,000 a year.

Unnecessary Sport Cutting and Title IX Mismanagement under Mark Coyle

  • Coyle’s September 2020 decision to cut men’s tennis, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor track was featured on a December 6, 2020 60 Minutes as a prime example of how some university athletics departments were using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to cut sports that they didn’t want to support during normal times. Coyle refused to appear to defend his decision to cut the three sports.
  • Coyle said that the decision to cut the sports was to save money during the pandemic. However, it was revealed that his proposed cuts composed less than 1 percent of the entire athletics budget.
  • Coyle chose to cut 3 of the 4 least expensive sports on a cost per athlete basis. These 3 sports are also the most racially, ethnically and internationally diverse among the “non-revenue” men’s teams.
  • Supporters of the three sports have fundraised enough to cover the sports for the next year along with presenting alternative funding models to become self-sustainable only to be stonewalled by Coyle.
  • In addition to the financial rationale for cutting the sports, Coyle has also said the decision was made to meet the Title IX “balance” requirement between male and female athletes. However, current Title IX non-compliance was the result of actions by Coyle prior to 2020 as each year, despite the increasing percentage of female undergraduates, he repeatedly made cuts to the overall number of female athletes.
  • Bizarrely, as he cut the three men’s sports, and used Title IX balancing as a rationale, the Star Tribune confirmed that at the same time he cut an additional 41 female students from existing teams, thus still leaving Minnesota out of Title IX compliance

Student-Athlete Mistreatment under Mark Coyle’s Tenure

  • Former University of Minnesota professor Jason Stahl has alleged a toxic workplace and player abuse on the football team under head coach PJ Fleck. Coyle has not addressed these allegations.
  • Basketball players on the Gopher women’s basketball team reported a toxic working environment under former head coach Marlene Stollings. Coyle did nothing in response. Stollings was fired by Texas Tech for similar allegations by players in 2020.


The Case Against Mark Coyle

The University of Minnesota Athletic Director Needs to Go and the Board of Regents Needs to Reject His Athletics Department Bailout
Jason Stahl, Dec 8, 2020

Beholden to One Man

P.J. Fleck and the Toxic Workplaces of College Football
Jason Stahl, Nov 17, 2020