David Coburn took control of Florida State’s athletics department as an interim in Sept. 2018, a role that later saw the temporary tag removed. After three-plus years as athletics director, a time in which he tackled a budget shortfall but also helped FSU’s teams pursue excellence on and off the field, Coburn will retire next year.
A report by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel on Wednesday afternoon stated FSU officials are “exploring options” to replace Coburn and that they have made contact with “multiple potential candidates.” But Coburn and FSU president Dr. Richard McCullough released a statement in the evening, clarifying Coburn would retire at the end of the 2021-22 academic year.
“When I accepted this position, I was determined to get the athletic program and the university I love through a historically challenging period,” Coburn said. “We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the myriad of COVID-related issues – not the least of which was the potentially crippling budget impact that virtually all schools have suffered through.
“Our athletic department is in excellent shape. We have coaches and staff who are recognized as being among the very best in the country and we have phenomenal student-athletes who compete at the very highest level of intercollegiate athletics.”
Coburn will stay on through the end of his contract, which is June 30, 2022, or earlier if McCullough chooses. It’s not clear how far into the search for an AD or if a committee has been formed.
In the summer of 2018, when Stan Wilcox departed for the NCAA, president John Thrasher asked Coburn to take over as interim AD. He later became FSU’s 12th full-time athletics director in May 2019. Coburn previously was chief of staff to president Dr. Eric Barron and Thrasher, and he is a 34-year veteran of working within the Florida legislature.
As FSU’s athletics director, Coburn was immediately tasked with tackling an out-of-control budget from the Wilcox Era. Coburn approved tough cuts and it was made all the more difficult when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of games in March 2020. FSU officials had to limit football attendance that fall to just 25 percent, which had a massive impact on the 2020-21 athletics budget.
Coburn also had a key role in the hiring of Mike Norvell as football coach and promoted Mike Martin Jr. to baseball coach in 2019.
“During his tenure, FSU athletics teams have enjoyed across-the-board success, highlighted by a women’s soccer national championship, a men’s basketball ACC title and trips to the College World Series for both the baseball and softball teams,” McCullough said. “As an FSU alumnus, David has always cared deeply about this university, and we thank him for his loyalty and dedication.”
Among the potential candidates: Seminole Boosters, Inc. CEO Michael Alford, who has been an athletic director at Central Michigan as well as at athletics departments around the nation and with the Dallas Cowboys.