BYRON, MINN. – During Mark Coyle’s first stint at the University of Minnesota, his office was at Mariucci Arena, in the Gophers marketing department. He was there in 2002 and 2003, when Don Lucia’s men’s hockey team won NCAA titles.
Now Coyle has returned as Minnesota’s new athletic director.
“The great news for us in hockey is, we’re going to have an AD who actually knows where Mariucci Arena is,” Lucia said Wednesday, on the final leg of the Gopher Road Trip at Somerby Golf Club.
That zinger was aimed at former AD Norwood Teague, who was seldom seen at Mariucci during his three-year tenure.
Lucia had a closer working relationship with Beth Goetz, but as interim AD, she left his contract situation up to the next permanent AD.
Lucia, 57, is entering the final year of his contract. Any decision to extend that contract will be Coyle’s call.
“I’m sure we’re going to sit down and talk,” Lucia said. “Mark’s only been on the job for one week right now, so I think that’ll be a discussion point here relatively soon.”
Lucia’s Gophers have won five consecutive regular season conference titles — two in the WCHA and three in the Big Ten — but missed the 16-team NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 2011.
Lucia spoke optimistically about next season, noting that last season’s 20-17 team was relatively young.
“I want to sit down with Don and find out where our program’s at, what’s changed,” Coyle said. “When I was here, they were going back-to-back national championships. And now with the Big Ten, and some of those things, I just want to get a feel from Don, what’s going on with his program. And what can I do to help Don and his program achieve at a high level.”