Feb 082006
 
Authors: Sean Star

Mark Driscoll, Colorado State's athletic director since 2003, resigned Wednesday to continue his career in the banking industry.

Driscoll will remain CSU's athletic director until March 31. The former CSU quarterback will become the president of First National Bank in Fort Collins starting April 3, a job he previously had.

"I was in the banking business for 24 years. Throughout my time here at CSU, which has been a great time, I never lost my interest in, or passion for the banking business," Driscoll said. "When the opportunity came along with a company that I know, people that I know and an industry that I really like, I decided to take it."

Gary Ozello, CSU's media relations director was shocked.

"You could see the scrape marks of my chin when it hit the desk," he said in reaction to the news.

Ozello said his "stunned" reaction was mirrored by everyone involved with CSU athletics.

"Mark bleeds green and gold," he added, "and it's sad to see him go."

Driscoll said that his resignation should have no impact on any team, coach or player at Colorado State. He also stated that he will miss the people at CSU upon leaving the university.

President Larry Edward Penley has appointed a search committee to search the nation for a candidate to replace Driscoll.

Chuck Neinas, of Neinas Sports Service Inc., will serve as a consultant for the committee. Neinas is the former executive director for the College Football Association and is highly respected in the field of college sports promotion.

If Driscoll's position is not filled by the end of March, Christine Susemihl – a senior associate athletic director – will become the interim director. Susemihl, an employee of the school's athletic department since 1973, had previously served as interim athletic director during the search for Driscoll.

The new athletic director will be the university's fifth since 1997. Previous directors include the University of Louisville's Tom Jurich, University of Connecticut's Jeffrey Hathaway and Tom Weiser of Kansas State.

All three athletic directors have been very successful in improving their school's programs, most notably in basketball. Jurich hired former NBA head coach Rick Pitino who helped his team reach the final four last year. Hathaway was on board at UConn for its 2004 dual national championships in men and women's basketball.

"Like with anything, I wish I would had done a better job with this or that," Driscoll said. "I wish we would have been able to sell more tickets and make more money," he commented about the two and a half years as the Rams athletic director.

Driscoll's resignation comes during the heart of the season for a majority of the school's sports teams. The sudden resignation begs the question of how it will affect the job security of a few coaching positions, in particular men's basketball. When asked about the chance of Dale Layer returning next year as head coach, Driscoll said, "That's something to be reviewed after the season."

In addition to quaterbacking the nation's highest passing offense in 1974, Driscoll earned both a bachelor's and master's degree from Colorado State. He has also spent time as an assistant football coach as well as a broadcaster for the Rams.

The CSU alum even made it to the National Football League with a brief career as a Dallas Cowboy and San Francisco 49er.

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