Gophers AD Mark Coyle declined chance to discuss program cuts with '60 Minutes'

Minnesota's now-former men's gymnastics coach did agree to be interviewed.
Publish date:
Mark Coyle

After slashing some "non-revenue" sports from the University of Minnesota athletics department earlier this year, the U's director of athletics, Mark Coyle, declined an opportunity to discuss the decision when he was asked by CBS News.  

During Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes, the long-running weekly program said Coyle "did not agree" to join the show, instead electing to issue a statement regarding the decision to eliminate men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field, men's gymnastics and men's tennis.

"The University of Minnesota believes that the changes it has made, however heartbreaking, will best position its department of athletics for sustainable, long-term success," Coyle's statement said. 

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker claimed during the program that the decision to cut the teams was a direct result of losing "TV money from football and basketball" that was lost when the coronavirus pandemic stopped last season's NCAA basketball season, while also delaying the Big Ten football season and forcing games to be played without fans. 

The U of M announced the cuts Sept. 10. Fifty-eight student-athletes were directly impacted, in addition to numerous coaches. Mike Burns, coach of the men's gymnastics team, agreed to speak with 60 Minutes. 

"It was kind of a surgical strike, if you will. A 15-minute call to tell you that your life as you know it is now changed forever," Burns explained. "We had a text message at about 1:20 p.m. and it said you need to be on a Zoom call at 2 p.m." 

Cutting the teams saved the athletic department approximately $1.6 million, according to 60 Minutes. The money saved lightens the blow of an estimated $75 million in lost revenue from the pandemic. 

"Even as three Big Ten schools eliminated a total of nine non-revenue sports, the conference moved heaven and earth to get football players back on the field and back on the air in order to preserve TV revenue," said Whitaker. 

Burns doesn't believe the small savings justified cutting his team, which in 2019 finished second at the NCAA Championships. He added that an attempt to save the program through a revenue-generating youth gymnastics program was denied by Coyle. 

"I think every athletic director who is dropping programs is using the COVID pandemic as an excuse," Burns continued. "There's financial issues everywhere, I get it."

No women's programs were slashed to maintain the U's goal to "remain steadfast in our commitment to provide Title IX gender-equitable participation opportunities," the department said in its September announcement.  

Coyle's decision not to appear on 60 Minutes attracted criticism from some in the Twin Cities sports media.

Next Up

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 26

The health departments provided new data daily at 11 a.m.


What health officials know, don't know about Brazil P.1 variant

Minnesota health officials confirmed the first case of the P.1 variant in the U.S.

christopher and banks

Christopher & Banks closing stores for good, laying off 361 people at Plymouth facility

The layoffs began earlier this month and will continue through March.


Goldy Gopher

University of Minnesota to discontinue 4 teams from athletics department

The pandemic is creating an estimated $75M loss of revenue this fiscal year.

Lindsay Whalen

5 highest-paid Gophers coaches take pay cuts

Each of the five coaches is taking a 10% pay cut.

Gophers cut season ticket prices for men's basketball, hockey

The cheapest season tickets are the lowest they've been since the 1990s.

Gophers AD: Tracy Claeys 'is our football coach'

Get ready for more of Tracy Claeys leading the Gophers.

Gophers AD: Tracy Claeys 'is our football coach'

Get ready for more of Tracy Claeys leading the Gophers.

Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 8.19.18 PM

Gophers land No. 7 national seed, will host softball tourney regional

Minnesota opens tournament play Friday night against NDSU.