Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle touched on upgrades for Taco Bell Arena, the basketball and football programs, a new ticketing system for fans, the recent arrest of quarterback Ryan Finley and even his own future in a wide-ranging interview with the Idaho Statesman:
Question: Taco Bell Arena has been in need of some upgrades for a while — where are you at, and has any progress been made?
Answer: I think we’ve definitely made progress. We would love to add a new video board in there, new scoreboards in the corners and LED signage between the first and second level, ribbon boards. We’re working closely with the State Board of Education and President (Bob) Kustra on it, with the intention of moving forward. There is a chance we get it done this year ... we’ve got to have a couple things fall in place. That’s our goal. If not this season, then it will be in place by the following season.
Q: How much of an undertaking has the process been?
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A: It’s been a large undertaking. My staff has worked incredibly hard. Our goal is to find the best option at the best price. We’ve been able to raise some funds, have had some companies come out and look at the arena to see what we can and can’t do. We have to be conscious of what Taco Bell Arena’s schedule is, too. We’ve done our homework, and we’re getting closer. It’s something we desperately need. Next, when we have a plan, we need to update the State Board of Education, what we plan on doing. (Note: the SBOE’s next meeting is June 17 — 18).
Q: You’ve spoken about trying to keep growing the basketball programs that play at Taco Bell Arena. What’s the next step?
A: First, you need stability. We’ve had coaches who have been here for a good length of time and done some great things. The men’s basketball team has kept that staff intact. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work. We’ve looked at doing more charters on away games. Men’s basketball has posted its best GPAs the last two seasons, and getting them back right away after weeknight games so they don’t miss a day of classes will really help.
Q: Is there anything you, as athletic director, can do to help with basketball scheduling?
A: I work closely with (men’s basketball coach) Leon (Rice). I’ve gotten more involved and he’s asked for it. We reach out to “Resource 5” (the Power 5 conferences) all the time trying to get games. Boise State is dangerous. We have a great group coming back. It’s hard to travel here, too. Leon is committed, and so am I , to improve the nonconference schedule. ... I’ve had a lot of conversations with ESPN in terms of helping facilitate games with us and teams that need them to create matchups here that get us on TV. We’ve made it clear, we’ll do home-and-home with anyone, but the issue is the getting them here part.
Q: Recently, it was announced that ESPN2 will broadcast the Mountain West championship game in football with a more friendly kickoff time of 5:30 p.m. How does that help Boise State?
A: We hear our fans. We’ve heard loud and clear the late kickoffs are a challenge, and I don’t disagree. We’ve talked a lot with the conference and ESPN to find a better balance. We were fortunate to host that game, but it gets cold at 8 p.m. in Boise in December, so if we’re fortunate enough to get it again, hopefully an earlier kick gets more fans here.
Q: With the change to Ticketmaster’s ticketing platform, will the fans notice any difference?
A: Our hope is that it’s more user-friendly. I don’t think most fans recognize the ticketing system they’ve been using, from that standpoint ... we want to make it as easy as possible. Our current agreement was expiring, and we felt like going through the process, Ticketmaster was the most fan-friendly thing we could work with.
Q: With a case like Ryan Finley’s, what is the process for an athletic department as far as how to handle it or what punishment is determined (the quarterback was arrested April 24 and charged with unlawful to purchase, possess or consume alcohol (under 21) and resisting or obstructing officers).
A: We have more than 400 student-athletes, and our goal is for them act responsibly athletically, socially and academically, but sometimes young men and women make mistakes. In Ryan’s situation, we’ve gathered the information and reviewed it. We all make mistakes. We need to gather all information, and make a fair and appropriate decision. It’s a collective decision. We have very high standards.
Q: Recently, your name came up as being a candidate at schools such as Pittsburgh and Syracuse to fill their athletic director vacancies. Some reports said you interviewed. Do you have any comment?
A: I’m similar to (former football) coach (Chris) Petersen. I don’t really comment on those things, other jobs. I can’t control what other people say. What I do know is that I’m incredible fortunate here. We’ve had tremendous success ... my name will pop up as that continues, I know that. We enjoy Boise State, our family has adjusted very well here, and that’s meant a lot to me.