Central Michigan athletic director Michael Alford is leaving the university to become the CEO of Seminole Boosters at Florida State, the university announced Wednesday.
Alford, 51, was hired by CMU in July 2017 to replace Dave Heeke, now the athletic director at Arizona.
Seminole Boosters is self-described as the “fundraising arm” of Florida State athletics. Each year, the group funds $34 million for the athletic department – $11 million for scholarships, $11 million for athletic facilities and $11.5 million for academic services, athletic training, player development and student services.
There are over 15,000 members of the Seminole Boosters.
“Michael’s leadership will be sorely missed,” CMU president Bob Davies said in a news release. “He understands that the student in student-athlete comes first, and it was evident that every move he made to enhance CMU’s championship culture and program was intended to help students succeed not only on the field but in the classroom.”
During his tenure at CMU, he was at the forefront of building the Chippewa Champions Center, set to be unveiled in September for the football team’s season opener. The $32.5 million project reconstructed the north end zone-facility at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Alford also added a $1.5 million scoreboard on the south end.
To pay for the 62,240-square-foot athletic building designed by Populous, Alford utilized donations, university funds and football game guarantees, according to Central Michigan Life, CMU’s student newspaper.
The Chippewas received $1 million from Wisconsin and $1.4 million from Miami (Florida) last season – both games ended in a loss. Because of the Big Ten’s recent decision to cancel non-conference games, however, CMU will miss out on $2.15 million in total from Nebraska and Northwestern, a significant financial hit for an athletic department trying to make it through the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, Alford cut the men’s track and field programs to save the athletic department more than $600,000 annually as a result of the financial fallout from the pandemic. Despite falling beneath the FBS threshold requiring six men’s programs, the department received a waiver from the NCAA to remain in the highest level of college football for two years without needing to a men’s sport.
In his three years, Alford hired new coaches for football, women’s basketball gymnastics, golf, field hockey, track and field, soccer, softball and baseball.
The relationship between Alford and football coach Jim McElwain was instrumental in bringing McElwain to Mount Pleasant in December 2019. In his first year as head coach, McElwain helped the Chippewas to an 8-6 record and 6-2 mark in the Mid-American Conference, enough to secure a bid in the MAC championship and New Mexico Bowl. The year prior, CMU was 1-11.
Four of his coaches in the 2019-20 academic year won MAC Coach of the Year honors – McElwain, women’s basketball’s Heather Oesterle, wrestling’s Tom Borrelli and volleyball’s Mike Gawlik.
Before making his mark at CMU, Alford had been a senior executive in fundraising and marketing for the University of Oklahoma, Dallas Cowboys, University of Alabama, ESPN, University of Southern California, Cincinnati Bengals and University of Cincinnati.
He played baseball at Mississippi State and Alabama-Birmingham, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 1993. He got his master’s degree in athletics administration at Arkansas in 1995.