Michael Alford realizes lifelong goal with introduction as FSU's new Director of Athletics – Tallahassee Democrat

When the opportunity presented itself, Michael Alford wasted no time
The Seminole Boosters President and CEO was offered the position of Florida State Vice President/Director of Athletics Thursday after a search by FSU’s Board of Trustees and search firm DHR International.
At Alford’s introductory press conference Friday as he’s set to replace retiring AD David Coburn, FSU President Richard McCullough said that Alford accepted the job “within two seconds” of the offer being extended.
A large contingent of more than 200 staff members, coaches, administrators, supporters and student-athletes packed into a Moore Athletics Center auditorium for the announcement. 
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“I’m honored to formally accept the position as the Director of Athletics at Florida State University. It’s a lifetime goal of mine as a citizen in this industry,” Alford said.
Alford will take over the FSU athletic department Jan. 3 after an extensive career in athletics management. He’s been atop Seminole Boosters since September of 2020. Before that, he previously worked as the AD at Central Michigan, as an associate AD at Oklahoma and in administrative positions with the Dallas Cowboys, Alabama athletics and a host of other programs.
“I am absolutely personally thrilled about having Michael join us. Michael is an absolutely amazing person and he’s done an absolutely outstanding job with the Seminole Boosters and has accomplished so much in a very short period of time,” McCullough said.
“He has strengthened the organization in an absolutely outstanding way by bringing together the athletic department and the president’s office as we all work together toward a shared purpose and a common goal…We’re in a really great shape here and Michael is really the right person to take us to the next level and we are so thrilled that he’s going to be taking charge.”
In his introductory press conference, Alford referred to the FSU AD job as a destination gig. That’s something he’s been able to see first-hand during his year-plus at FSU with Seminole Boosters.
During that time, Alford has substantially raised the number of active Seminole Boosters members from approximately 9,000 to nearly 12,000 and played a key role in helping FSU raise over $100 million in pledges for its Unconquered Campaign.
He’s also built relationships within the department and with the many coaches at FSU across the 20 sports teams.
A number of FSU coaches, including head football coach Mike Norvell and head men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton were in attendance at Friday’s press conference to show their support for Alford.
“Incredible leader. Great passion. Great vision. People can present a vision but what I love about him is the execution of the vision,” Norvell said.
“We were at multiple events together (during the offseason), you see the sincerity. He’s such a genuine person, truly cares about the individuals, cares about the purpose…Like he mentioned in the press conference, this is a special place with special people and who he represents, it matters.
“The work he has done in a short period of time has already made an incredible impact on our student-athletes and the experience of all Seminoles.”
During his opening statement, Alford shared the three messages that will serve as tenets of the athletic department he intends to run.
The first of these messages was alignment. Within the athletic department, coordinating with President McCullough and the FSU administration and with Seminole Boosters, Inc., Alford stressed the importance of everyone being aligned with the same goals in mind.
“The alignment that we have right now is something that I’m really excited about and talking to others they are excited about. Between our coaching staff, the department, the boosters, all the way up to the Chairman of the Board, all the way up to the President, we are truly aligned. We’re working together on the same vision,” Alford said.
 “We know what each person needs to do to accomplish our goals. And that’s what I think we’re really going to benefit from me having spent that time with the booster organization is that I understand what it takes to to provide the experiences for our student athletes, to provide the facilities to compete at a high level. We could be in a better alignment at FSU than ever before.”
The second message was the well-being of the FSU student-athletes being a focal point.
This is something Alford personally understands as a former college baseball player at Mississippi State and UAB. It’s something his wife, Laura, has also experienced as a former college volleyball player at Hawaii. And it is something both of them also experienced as parents of a pair of former college athletes.
“We will be focused on the well-being of our student-athletes and their success. We will embrace high standards that keep student-athletes in every decision we make,” Alford said.
“We’ll set plans in place that have them leaving FSU with a meaningful degree in their left hand and a championship ring on the other. I’ll be working closely with our staff and coaches to place the student-athletes in a position to compete for championships in the classroom and in the field of play. The safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes is simply non negotiable. We will strive to have the best student-athlete experience.”
The third message was that the FSU athletic department will embrace excellence.
This is something Alford says he discussed with McCullough and Chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees Peter Collins during the interview process. All of them are in agreement that the department is in strong shape with a great set of coaches in place and the finances in far better shape thanks to the work that Coburn has done over the last three years since taking over as interim AD in August of 2018.
“It involves embracing excellence and competing in everything we do internally and externally. We will become better than we were yesterday. We will compete and hold everyone accountable to a culture of high standards. The standard is the standard,” Alford said.
“We’ll invite all those that connect to our program to embrace the concept of excellence that we want. We will develop and refine plans and processes that move our organization forward and we will embrace excellence in all of our work. We’ll move tirelessly to communicate our standards of excellence within our community amongst the university leaders, the academic community, our alumni, donors and fans.”
Alford is set to formally take over for Coburn on Jan. 3. FSU hasn’t had an AD stay in the position for over a decade since Dave Hart, who led the athletic department from 1995 through 2007. Alford indicated he hopes to bring that stability to FSU’s department for quite some time.
“I look forward to working along with all of you of you for the weeks and months ahead. I can’t wait to get started in January,” Alford said.
“Laura and I are excited to make Tallahassee our home for a long time. Today’s a great day to be a Seminole.”
Reach Curt Weiler at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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