University of Minnesota: Gopher student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom and competition

Building on department-wide successes from recent seasons, Gopher student-athletes continued to excel academically and athletically in the past year, competing with the nation’s most celebrated programs in both arenas. Their achievements come at a time of uncertainty in Division I college athletics, with Gopher Athletics navigating financial and operational challenges similar to those facing athletic departments throughout the country. As part of their annual report to the Board of Regents, department leadership will highlight accomplishments and headwinds on Wednesday.

Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle will celebrate the academic achievements of Gopher student-athletes. Collectively, these 650-plus students hold a cumulative GPA of 3.4 and lead all institutions across the Power 5 conferences in graduation rate (96 percent). In terms of individual accolades, the department had 331 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, 79 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars and 11 Academic All-Americans. The last of those numbers places Minnesota second nationally across the sports it sponsors, behind only Stanford.

Gopher teams and student-athletes continued to perform at a high level in competition as well. In the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, which measures broad-based athletic success, the Gophers placed among the top 10 percent in the country (28 out of 295) and fourth in the Big Ten. Gopher teams won four regular season championships and three individual athletes earned NCAA national titles. Notably, Taylor Heise was honored as the nation’s top collegiate women’s hockey player and Gable Steveson earned the same distinction in wrestling, while also being named the Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year.

Coyle will also detail steps the department has taken to manage its budget through unpredictable landscapes the past several years. This will include reiterating how the department is performing in its key revenue areas, as well as how it has reviewed and adjusted its expenses to minimize debt following canceled seasons and others played without fans in attendance.

Coyle will also discuss with the Board how national-level name, image and likeness rules and legislation have altered college athletics in the past year, and how Gopher Athletics has adapted to and embraced these changes.

As part of its July meetings, the Board is also expected to:

Review and act on the appointment of an interim chancellor at the Duluth campus, following a discussion with the co-chairs of the search committee that has recommended a finalist.
Act on policy changes related to the MPact 2025 capital financing program.
Review and act on a real estate transaction related to 2407 University Investment LLC Real Estate Partnership.
Discuss public safety planning for the upcoming year with President Joan Gabel and Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans.
Receive the annual report from the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.
Discuss the Twin Cities hosting the 2026 Special Olympics and ways the University will support that event.