University of Denver Murad College Series trading card, circa 1909 – from the personal collection of Puck Swami
DU Hockey is unbeaten in its last eight games and just ascended to #1 in the country for the first time since 2010, coming off an NCAA Frozen Four berth in 2016.
DU Men’s Soccer is regular-season unbeaten for two years, something that hasn’t been done in D-I soccer in nearly 40 years by any team. The Pios are now ranked in the top 5 in the country and start NCAA tournament play at home this weekend as the sixth overall seed out of the 48 teams in the tourney (and over 200 D-I teams overall playing the sport).
DU Men’s Lacrosse, coached by the greatest lacrosse coach of all time, starts up in a couple of months and will ranked as a top 5 team in the country. Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame are all coming to Denver this year for the greatest home schedule in DU History, all bathing in the afterglow of the 2015 NCAA Championship season.
DU Skiing starts up soon — as the defending NCAA Champion for the 23rd time in history and THE dominant program in the history of the sport at the college level.
I could go on and on with even more excellent current DU sports, more hardware accomplishments and more national rankings, but for a little school in the Rockies with 5,500 undergrads that only restored all sports to Division I less than 20 years ago, we’re doing pretty damn well, thank you very much. In fact, in the 150 plus years that DU’s been around, our sports program, taken as a whole, HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER.
For those of us old farts who have been following Pioneer sports for 30 years or more, this is a very unique moment in time that is nothing short of an incredible, astonishing achievement. We can remember well the dingy days of the 1980s — when our school was $12 million in debt, deferred maintenance topped $40 million, and DU was in danger of going under. Our campus was a muddy mess with no names on the buildings. Many of our DU teams of that era competed in obscurity against NAIA schools you’ve never heard of, playing on patchy fields and in 40 year old WWII surplus buildings that were once condemned. The very suggestion of being NCAA Division I in all sports would get you laughed at back then, rather than admired, as it is today.
Today, our campus sparkles amid gorgeous facilities, and we’re not only D-I in all sports, but DU is the best D-I school without football in the country for years now, and we’re punching so far above our weight as an athletic power that it boggles the mind. Our athletes also graduate at a higher rate than the entire student body (90%), have a higher GPA (3.3) than the all-student average, and (knock on wood) avoid the police blotter, too.
The point here is that we can’t take all this for granted, folks…
There may come a time (perhaps too soon) when the big football schools with the big budgets move on from playing ‘mid-majors’ like us. Or when financial pressures may someday limit DU’s athletic ambitions. Or when people stop coming to college sports events because there are just too many other things competing for people’s time and attention, which I already covered in another column here.
It’s time we get out to watch these great DU teams now, while we can ALL enjoy this Golden Age of DU Sports…and bring everyone you know!
Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a long-time DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views periodically here at LetsGoDU.com