- Florida State University has named Michael Alford as the school’s new Vice President and Director of Athletics.
- Former FSU athletic director David Coburn announced his retirement last week.
- Florida State initially targeted Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra for the job before reversing course and offering the position to Alford.
Another high profile college football vacancy has been filled though in a somewhat circuitous fashion. On Thursday, Florida State University named Michael Alford as the school’s new Vice President and Director of Athletics. Alford has been serving as the president and CEO of Seminole Boosters since 2020 and has since been considered the heir apparent to former FSU AD David Coburn. Coburn announced his retirement last week, quickly setting in motion the process of finding his replacement.
Seminole Boosters is one of the more successful college booster organizations in the country and Alford has been given considerable credit for maintaining their success. The FSU press release announcing the hire described Alford as ‘an accomplished leader with a wealth of experience in collegiate and professional athletics and a proven track record of fundraising, hiring successful coaches and managing elite athletics programs.” Before taking over as the head of the Seminole Boosters, Alford was the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development and Administration at the University of Oklahoma. He was also in charge of the Sooner Club, Oklahoma University’s own highly successful booster organization. Alford served as the athletic director at Central Michigan University from 2017-2020 and has additionally held positions in sports marketing and sales for the Dallas Cowboys, Crimson Tide Sports Marketing and several other schools. He’s also worked at ESPN and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Although Alford has been seen as the top candidate to replace Coburn since arriving in Tallahassee, the transition took a strange turn early on in the search process for a new AD. Florida State president Richard McCullough indicated in late November that Coburn would retire when his successor was named. Coburn was hired under previous university president John Thrasher in 2019. McCullough was hired in May to replace Thrasher and it was expected that Coburn would step down ‘sooner rather than later’ so the new man in charge could hire his own AD.
Initially, it appeared that the next AD at Florida State would be Louisville AD Vince Tyra. As of last week, the media reports indicated that there was mutual interest and that barring anything unforeseen Tyra would be coming to Florida State. The word is that Tyra was offered the job earlier this week but for reasons that aren’t quite clear, Florida State started getting concerned about his status. A lot going on at Louisville this week as school president Neeli Bendapudi resigned Thursday to become president at Penn State University. On Wednesday, the Louisville board of trustees waived the non-compete clause and 30-day termination notice from Tyra’s contract. Simultaneously, Tyra had offered his resignation, effective Wednesday, and that the university accepted it.
There’s now a lot of questions in the Louisville area about what is going on at the University. Since Tyra went through the process of getting his non-compete agreement removed there’s an expectation he’ll be going somewhere though–for the time being at least–no one knows where. The departure of school president Bendapudi was something of a surprise and has created even more of a feeling of chaos at the University of Louisville but for now there’s little explanation what is going on. As for Tyra, he’s no longer employed at Louisville but for now he’s not commenting.
Florida State University President Richard McCullough had this to say about Alford in announcing his hiring:
“Michael Alford’s experience and passion for Florida State University make him an outstanding choice to lead the Athletics Department. Since arriving at FSU, he has made a tremendous impact and has garnered the overwhelming support of the Florida State community. Most importantly, his commitment to education and preparing student-athletes for lifelong success reflects the mission and values of Florida State University.”
FSU Board of Trustees Chair Peter Collins added these thoughts about Alford:
“As the college athletics environment continues to rapidly evolve and becomes increasingly competitive and complex, Michael Alford’s demonstrated professional success here at Florida State and beyond makes him an ideal fit for athletics director. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of Seminole Athletics.”
Alford is excited to take over as AD and if there is any rancor over the dalliance with Tyra he’s not showing it:
“Laura and I love Florida State University and the people who make this such a special place. Everyone has been so welcoming, and we’re excited about this opportunity to lead Seminole Athletics. I’ve enjoyed building strong relationships throughout the community, including with President McCullough. I look forward to working closely with him to enhance the overall mission of the university.”
A nationwide search will now begin to replace Alford as head of Seminole Boosters. What is going on at Louisville remains to be seen.