(Posted September 2021)
David Coburn became Florida State’s 12th full-time Athletics Director in May of 2019 after serving as the interim athletic director the previous eight months. He was elevated to the position of Vice President and Director of Athletics in 2021.
Coburn’s tenure has coincided with arguably the most challenging period in the history of intercollegiate athletics due to the myriad of challenges related to the COVID pandemic. He has benefited from his almost 40 years of legislative and university experience before his current role, as he has managed the athletics department through challenges that are not only unprecedented in FSU history, but in athletics across the board.
“I am grateful to David Coburn for taking on this role permanently,” FSU President John Thrasher said when appointing Coburn to the permanent role. “For years, I have relied on his experience, integrity, and good judgment, and the progress we have made under his leadership is already evident. I know the future of our championship Athletics program is as bright as ever and in good hands.”
During his first year leading the athletic department in 2018-19, Florida State placed seventh in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup. It was the highest finish for any ACC school and also the highest-ranking for FSU athletics in a decade. FSU soccer captured the NCAA National Championship, baseball reached the College World Series, men’s basketball advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, and 19 of FSU’s sports participated in NCAA Championship play.
The Seminoles appeared well on their way to another top finish in the Director’s Cup in 2019-20 when all sports came to a halt in March. In fact, the men’s basketball team was ranked No. 4 in the country and were the top-seed in the ACC tournament before the stoppage in play left them warming up on the court for their first tournament game. Overall, FSU had five teams ranked in the Top 10 nationally, and a total of 10 of its 13 spring sports ranked among the Top 25 when the pandemic changed everyone’s lives.
Florida State had another outstanding year in 2020-21 despite continuing to battle through the ramifications, both from an economic and safety standpoint, of the pandemic. FSU finished 16th in the Director’s Cup and fifth nationally in the Capital One rankings of women’s programs. The Seminoles played for National Championships in both soccer and softball last year.
In 2019, Coburn worked with President Thrasher, FSU’s Board of Trustees and Seminole Boosters to land coveted football coach Mike Norvell.
Prior to his appointment as Director of Athletics, Coburn served as chief of staff to FSU President Eric Barron and Thrasher.
Coburn brought a wealth of legislative and state budget experience to the university’s administration when Barron hired him in 2012. He is a 34-year veteran of the Florida legislative process, most recently Staff Director of the Florida Senate Committee on Ways and Means before coming to FSU. He served as Chief of Staff of the House of Representatives under two different Speakers, as Chief of Staff of the Senate under Senate President Ken Pruitt, and as Director of Planning and Budgeting for Gov. Lawton Chiles from 1992-94.
Coburn is a triple Florida State alumnus having earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Juris Doctorate from the FSU College of Law.
He and his wife, Dr. Mary Coburn, have two daughters and two grandchildren.