BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Tad Boyle really felt like his arrival in Boulder was going to pay big dividends.
Not at first as a basketball coach, either, but as an investment advisor. That was his line of work a while back, before coaching entered the picture.
Fast-forward a few decades: Boyle’s on the brink of becoming Colorado’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach — a mark he can achieve Wednesday night against Southern Utah. In 13 seasons with the Buffaloes, Boyle has compiled a 261-160 mark. He’s tied with Sox Walseth, who went 261-245 over 20 seasons.
And while Boyle has guided the Buffaloes to nine of their 13 20-win seasons in team history, he said his true measure of success remains simple — the bonds he’s formed along the way.
“The wins are one thing but it’s the relationship with your players, and hopefully the impact you’ve had on their lives,” Boyle said in a phone interview. “It’s why I do what I do. That’s why I got into this business. Hopefully, we can win some games, compete for championships, go to some NCAA Tournaments, have a lot of fun, create a lot of memories, but it’s the relationships that matter.”
It’s been a winding road to Boulder for Thomas Boyle, who picked up the nickname “Tad” from his parents (to differentiate him from his dad, who is also Thomas). It’s a path that started as a high school standout up the road in Greeley, Colorado, then led him to Kansas, where he played for coaches Ted Owens and Larry Brown. After graduation, he put his business degree to work in the investment industry, which landed him a lucrative position in Boulder.
On the side, he coached at the high school level, which is where, “I caught the coaching bug,” he said.
Then, a career shift, when a position at Oregon opened up under coach Jerry Green. Boyle left a six-figure job for one that paid $16,000.
He’s never looked back.
Boyle followed Green to Tennessee to serve as director of basketball operations. After that, he joined the staff of Mark Turgeon — his teammate at Kansas — as an assistant at Jacksonville State in Alabama. Boyle also went to Wichita State with Turgeon as well.
In 2006, Boyle earned his first head coaching assignment at Northern Colorado, in the city where he grew up. Boyle went 4-24 his first season with the Bears and 25-8 in his last. He had a 56-66 mark at Northern Colorado when Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn brought him to Boulder.
“A losing record, and coming from the Big Sky to a Power Five? That took a lot of guts for him to do that,” Boyle said.
It paid instant dividends.
Boyle won his first contest at Colorado — 88-80 over Idaho State on Nov. 12, 2010 — behind 20 points from Alec Burks, 16 from Cory Higgins, and 11 rebounds by Andre Roberson — all eventual pro players. They won 24 games that season and were back in the NCAA Tournament by the next.
In the Boyle era, the Buffaloes have gone 169-35 at home and made five NCAA Tournament appearances. They’ve also seen NBA players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Derrick White, McKinley Wright IV and Jabari Walker — to name a few — pass through the program.
“He’s a great coach,” sophomore guard KJ Simpson said. “He really cares about us and we care about him the same way.”
Boyle tied Walseth with an 88-77 win over Northern Colorado on Sunday. Walseth amassed a 261-245 record from 1956-76 (he also served as the Colorado women’s basketball coach from 1980-83, going 77-21). The court is named in Walseth’s honor, too.
Boyle said he never had the chance to meet Walseth, but has talked with members of his family.
“The Walseth family is special. Sox was a special man,” Boyle said. “I’m honored to be in his company.”
In the stands for the win that tied Boyle with Walseth were several players he coached at Northern Colorado. They sat next to his family and ventured down to the court after the game to take pictures with him.
To share stories, too.
“I got emotional on the radio. I got emotional in my press conference. And I wasn’t emotional because I was tying Sox Walseth’s record. I was emotional because of those five guys coming to the game,” Boyle said. “Catching up with all of them, hearing about their jobs and their wives and their kids and their families — that’s the part that’s so special.”
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