Dec 092003
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

Four months into his tenure as CSU’s athletic director, Mark

Driscoll still needs time to settle in.

The state budget crisis, possible Mountain West Conference

expansion and picking a new varsity sport for CSU are just a few of

the issues Driscoll has already had to face in his first year on

the job.

He also has the pressure of continuing to get big donations

despite the downturn in the nationwide economy. In May, Pat

Stryker, president of the Bohemian Foundation, a non-profit

community organization, gave the department a $15.2 million

donation to improve football facilities, the largest donation in

CSU history.

Even though Driscoll knew he would face many challenges as AD

and had a good job as president of First National Bank, he did not

hesitate in taking the job.

“To say I’m excited is an understatement,” Driscoll said in a

release after being named the AD on Aug. 8. “To be able to come

back to my alma mater — and to use some of the knowledge and

skills I’ve acquired over the years in the business community to

serve the athletic program — is the opportunity of a

lifetime.”

But if reviews by his peers and predecessors are any indication,

he could have a long and successful tenure atop a rising athletic

program.

“I think Mark Driscoll is going to be the next Fum McGraw for

CSU,” said Jeff Hathaway, AD at the University of Connecticut and

Driscoll’s predecessor at CSU.

Driscoll will have a long way to go to reach the status of

McGraw, who was AD at CSU from 1976 to 1986 and a legendary

football player. The McGraw Athletic Center, which was constructed

in 1997, is named in his honor.

But like McGraw, Driscoll has been a lifelong member and

supporter of the CSU and Fort Collins communities. Formerly the

president of Fort Collins-based First National Bank, Driscoll led

the nation in passing as a quarterback for the Rams in 1974 and

earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSU.

For a program that has had six different ADs since 1991,

Driscoll said he hopes to bring stability and stay for the long

run.

“The institution is bigger than any individual,” Driscoll said.

“I want CSU to be a national powerhouse in every one of our

sports.”

The biggest decision he has made since becoming AD was adding

women’s water polo as the school’s 16th varsity sport. The NCAA

mandated that all schools with Division I-A football teams have 16

varsity sports by Aug. 1, 2004.

Driscoll said he chose water polo primarily because it would

have the least financial impact on the department and other sports.

Facilities would not have to be changed, CSU’s women’s swimming and

diving coach John Mattos will double as water polo coach and some

students on swimming scholarships could also play on the water polo

team.

However, CSU will have to get a waiver to play matches at Moby

Pool because it is not regulation size. Many were surprised

Driscoll did not pick a sport that is played more in Colorado, like

women’s soccer.

“We were very shocked to hear that women’s water polo was

chosen,” said Sara Colorosa, a club sports coordinator, on Oct.

30.

“I’ve been working in club sports for a few years now and I

always expected (the next varsity sport) to be women’s soccer.

Although it is a great change and a new avenue for the sport as

well, we are all just pretty shocked. Ultimately flabbergasted and

shocked.”

Coaches and players under Driscoll certainly think he is the

right man for the job.

“He’s an amazing man,” said Ben Stratton, a sophomore cornerback

for the football team. “We’re going to do some great things with

him as our leader I think.”

While Driscoll is still adjusting to certain parts of the job,

he said he should be pretty well off when it comes to fundraising.

As a prominent businessman in Fort Collins with his past

connections to CSU, Driscoll said finding the donations won’t be as

hard as it would be for someone who came from out of town.

“I really know the (donors) already,” Driscoll said.

Head football coach Sonny Lubick said he is excited about the

Driscoll’s prospects but warned it’s going to take some time.

“It’s just a matter of him figuring out where the funds are and

what we do have to make sure all the programs are going forward and

not staying in the status quo,” Lubick said.

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