DU Conference Affiliation Hinges on Basketball

No DU sports discussion generates more interest than DU’s primary league affiliation, the Summit League.

It all starts by dominating the Summit league in basketball.

Like it or not, DU’s only chance to eventually move to a new conference hinges on the school’s ability to succeed in men’s basketball. That will require an improved RPI and success in the Summit League before DU will be considered by other conferences for membership. For non-football schools, a healthy revenue producing basketball program adds greater national visibility, fills conference coffers, and covers athletic department operating budgets – that is what every conference wants in a new member.

Talk to fans and there are four challenges to taking hoops to the next level: DU is a hockey school – there is not room for an additional ‘major sport’ at a relatively small school like DU. Others cite the lumbering Princeton system that was loved by some bball purists but seen as boring to many others. Some believe a more visible, positive coach would drive fans to games. And, of course,  there is the issue of conference affiliation.

The first issue will never go away – DU will always be a school with an excellent hockey tradition and program. But in a growing city like Denver (adding 1000 new residents per month) and an increasing number of graduates staying in the Denver area, there is room for both sports and surely a ‘base’ of 4000 college hoops fans reside in the region. The hiring of new head coach Rodney Billups was a visible effort to address the playing style issue by ‘playing fast’ and, of course, delivering a winning program and, eventually a league championship. And, as local residents can attest, Rodney and his staff can be spotted and heard all over the Denver area and on the campus promoting the basketball program.


People rarely comment on the cost of DU basketball. We took a look at premium seating at DU and other mid-majors for basketball. We define premium seating as the seating located immediately behind court side seats. We compared DU’s premium seating to other mid-majors and here is what we found:


The athletics administration has addressed two of the four issues – playing style and a more accessible, positive coach with the hope of improved attendance and a stronger RPI. Hockey will continue to be the major winter attraction at Magness. As for price, Denver basketball offers some of the least expensive seats in D1 – not necessarily a good thing for revenue and the long term growth of hoops.

One of the biggest things fans can do is go to games. That is why we created the Pio Posse offer – to generate trial and new season ticket holders. This offer ends in two weeks.

Until DU can become a ‘major’ mid-major in basketball, a new conference affiliation is only a pipe dream.