FSU close to naming its next athletic director

Several media sources have reported, and The Osceola has confirmed, University of Louisville Vice President and Athletics Director Vince Tyra and Florida State have a mutual interest. Florida State has also interviewed current Seminole Booster President and CEO Michael Alford. 

The Osceola will follow the hiring of FSU’s 17th Athletic Director throughout the week beginning with profiles on these two candidates.

University of Louisville Athletics Director Vince Tyra

The 56-year-old Tyra has served U of L in this position since March 2018, replacing Louisville’s fired athletic director, Tom Jurich, who faced allegations of misconduct regarding the 2017–18 men’s basketball corruption scandal. Tyra joined the Cardinal athletics department in October 2017 as interim athletic director.

Tyra (pronounced Ty-Ray) brought little athletic administration experience, but a strong business background, to an embattled athletic department. Tyra’s business career included as an operating partner of the private equity investment firm of Southgate Capital. According to his bio on the UL Athletic site, Tyra served as chairman of the board of numerous of those investments including Hallcon Corp, RCR International, Total Fleet Solutions, Dealer Financial Services, and BioPharm Communications. Tyra most recently served as chairman of the board and interim Chief Executive Officer of Elite Medical, a company based in Clearwater, Fla.  

Tyra gained some experience working within the university environment by serving as a member of the University of Louisville’s Foundation Board of Directors, where he chaired the organization’s Finance Committee.

Tyra has deep roots in Louisville, where he was an outstanding pitcher, earning a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where he was a four-year starter. Tyra’s father, Charlie Tyra (1954-57) is one of only four Cardinals whose basketball jersey has been retired.  

According to Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, Tyra and the university president are at odds, which may explain why Tyra is looking to leave the Bluegrass State. 

“Relations between Tyra and U of L president Neeli Bendapudi are strained enough that a potential parting could be considered mutual,” Forde tweeted.

Forde reports that interest “is mutual and serious” and that Louisville’s board of trustees will meet on Monday regarding the possibility of Tyra’s departure, followed by an athletic board meeting on Tuesday.

Tyra’s hires include Xavier basketball coach Chris Mack to replace fired coach Rick Pitino and Appalachian State football coach Scott Satterfield, replacing fired Bobby Petrino. 

Tyra has put an emphasis on major capital projects and is embarking on a Women’s Athletics Capital Campaign. While Louisville ranks well below FSU in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup, they have ranked among the Top 35 eight straight seasons and all four under Tyra’s tenure.

Cardinal athletic teams posted a collective 3.289 GPA during the most recent 2021 Spring semester, with 428 student-athletes earning a 3.0 GPA or higher and 273 capturing a 3.5 or better GPA. The Cardinals have been very good in community service as well, finishing second in the 2020-21 NCAA Division I Team Works Award Competition for community service. Tyra’s efforts have strengthened UofL’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, through the departmental goals and value statements and the creation of the Cardinals S.O.A.R. (Strategically Organizing Against Racism) Committee.

Tyra and his wife, Lori, have five children: Sydney, Audrey, Olivia, Spencer and Cooper.

Seminole Booster President and CEO Michael Alford

Michael Alford was named President and CEO of Seminole Boosters, Inc., on July 15, 2020 after three years as athletic director at Central Michigan.

We published an article outlining his experience in collegiate and professional athletic experience upon the announcement that is summarized and updated here. 

Alford, 52, has made these additional stops in his career:

  • University of Oklahoma’s senior associate athletics director for administration and development from 2012-17. He was a critical piece of a $160 million end zone facility project and capital campaigns in football and basketball.
  • Dallas Cowboys’ senior director of corporate partnerships and sales from 2008-12.
  • General manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing from 2004-08.
  • Alford has worked in various roles at ESPN, Southern Cal, the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Alford played baseball at Mississippi State and UAB, earning his degree in communication arts in 1993. He earned his master’s degree in athletics administration from Arkansas in 1995.

In his three years, Alford hired new coaches for football, women’s basketball, gymnastics, golf, field hockey, track and field, soccer, softball and baseball.

Alford’s relationship with football coach Jim McElwain was instrumental in bringing McElwain to Mount Pleasant to take over a 1-11 program. McElwain helped the Chippewas to an 8-6 record and 6-2 mark in the Mid-American Conference to secure a bid in the MAC championship and New Mexico Bowl. 

Four of Alford’s hires won MAC Coach of the Year honors — McElwain, women’s basketball’s Heather Oesterle, wrestling’s Tom Borrelli and volleyball’s Mike Gawlik.

Alford is credited with leading Central Michigan during the most successful fundraising period in its athletics history. He was the driving force behind The Chippewa Champions Center, which will serve as the home to football operations, strength and conditioning, sports medicine and several other units. While at CMU he re-negotiated athletics’ apparel contract, resulting in a 600 percent increase in revenue, spearheaded an all-time high in Chippewa Athletic Fund memberships and the department’s all-time fundraising record in 2018-19 that eclipsed the mark set in 2017-18 by 50 percent.

Since joining Seminole Boosters, Alford has served on Athletic Director David Coburn’s senior staff as well as leading Seminole Boosters, the fundraising arm of Florida State University Athletics. In his first year, the Seminoles have increased the annual fund, completed a successful $100 million capital campaign for a variety of sports, including the Football Operations Building, announced the expansion of premium seating within Doak Campbell Stadium and signed a lucrative concessions and premium hospitality contract with Legends.

Alford’s wife, Laura, played volleyball at Hawaii and coached at Cincinnati and UCI. They have three daughters, Audrey, Ashley and Anna Leigh.

Search likely to come to decision this week

The search has been underway for some weeks now. Early this fall, Athletic Director David Coburn alerted FSU’s new President Richard MCullough of his desire to retire by the end of the spring semester, or as soon as McCullough could come to an agreement with the right candidate. 

Based on The Osceola’s reporting, President McCullough and Board of Trustee Chairman Peter Collins are heading the search with the assistance of a consulting firm, DRH, which is the same group that helped FSU in the hiring of football coach Mike Norvell. A decision is likely to come this week so stay tuned.