May 14, 2019 - by

Budget, Boosters And Baseball On AD Coburn’s Agenda

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – David Coburn’s title has changed, but his priorities are the same.

Coburn, named FSU’s athletics director last week after holding that job in an interim role since September, is in the midst of his first tour through the ACC’s spring meetings here at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island.

In his first public comments since receiving his new designation, Coburn said that he hopes that removing the “interim” tag will provide a sense of stability for FSU’s athletics staff, coaches and community as the department moves forward.

Beyond that, the items on his agenda are more or less the same as they were when he first took his post nine months ago:

“Get to budget stability, repair the relationship with the boosters and, in the immediate future, hire a baseball coach,” Coburn said.

“Those are the main things.”

And when a reporter noted that it sounded like an ambitious checklist, Coburn smiled and said, “It’s been going on for eight months.”

Indeed, in regard to FSU Athletics’ relationship with its fund-raising arm, Seminole Boosters, Inc., Coburn was candid when he said:

“It’s no secret that we’re working on that relationship.”

“We’re working on a restructure,” Coburn elaborated, “and the president (FSU president John Thrasher) has made that clear. As has the Chairman of the Board (Ed Burr).

“We are deep into that with our boosters right now, and it’s going well. I think we’re going to get there in the near future, actually.”

Coburn is also well aware that, as May inches closer to June, baseball season will be winding down and that FSU will have to settle on legendary coach Mike Martin’s replacement.

And although he didn’t tip his hand too much about the search process, Coburn said that both he and Thrasher are “comfortable” with where things stand.

Martin’s Seminoles are entering the last week of the regular season and will play in the ACC tournament next week in Durham, N.C.

“I think this is one of the premier programs,” Coburn said, “and I think that we’ve had a level of interest in that job that reflects it. So, I think we’re going to be able to make a good hire.”

A few other points of interest …

  • Coburn was of course asked about Florida State’s football program, and its efforts to turn things around in Year 2 with coach Willie Taggart. (Taggart is also in attendance this week, as are basketball coaches Leonard Hamilton and Sue Semrau.) Coburn pointed to two things about Taggart that give reason for optimism – 1) Taggart has experience navigating difficult seasons before getting on track, with his work at Western Kentucky and South Florida serving as examples. And 2) Taggart took dramatic steps to remake his offensive staff, and Coburn believes that the three new coaches – Kendal Briles, Randy Clements and Ron Dugans – will make a big difference.“He knows what he needs to do, and I think he’s shown that he’s willing to do what he needs to do,” Coburn said. “He’s got a goal in mind. … He’s been through this before and he knows how it works. He knows the pressures that happen initially and how to deal with it. I think we’ve made some changes that will help a lot.”
  • Coburn believes that Florida State is in very good position for the launch of the ACC television network in August. Noting that FSU is far ahead of the curve when it comes to putting on a live broadcast thanks to the Seminole Productions team, Coburn also said that the new network will require member schools to be flexible as they adjust to different schedules and time slots.“I think that the message we’ve gotten loud and clear from both ESPN and from our consultants is if you want this thing to work, you’ve got to be flexible,” he said. “… And I think our coaches get that already.”

Speaking of those coaches, count Hamilton as one who is happy to see Coburn hold the top job on a permanent basis.

“I think President Thrasher and David, when he was the (chief of staff), they’ve always been extremely supportive,” Hamilton said. “They have a love and respect for Florida State, but also of the athletics department. So, I think it’s an excellent transition for him – going from the administrative side, where he brings that wealth of experience and talent understanding for how the other side works – and then he brings that to the athletics department …

“That can’t do anything but enhance our position as an athletics department.”

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