Photos: University of Denver
LetsGoDU has learned from Brandon Macneill, DU Athletics’ Associate Vice Chancellor for External Affairs, that plans are being finalized to send the DU Pioneer Pep Band and DU Cheerleaders to Chicago next week for the NCAA Frozen Four. DU’s band, as the higher-seeded ‘home team,’ will also play the National Anthem before Thursday’s National Semi-Final against Notre Dame. Additionally, DU will provide a limited amount of free tickets for DU students who can get to Chicago for the game(s).
It is believed to be the first time the DU pep band or cheerleaders will perform at the Frozen Four since the 1960s, as DU did not send its band or cheerleaders to Frozen Fours in Tampa (2016), Columbus (2005), Boston (2004) or Providence (1986) for financial reasons.
“The presence of the DU band and cheerleaders in Chicago is a real boost for school pride and school spirit,” said Tim Thompson, publisher of LetsGoDU. “It’s great to see that DU is taking full advantage of fan engagement opportunities around this important national event. There could be over 1,000 DU fans at the game(s) from all over the country, since top-seeded DU’s ticket demand was far beyond expectations, selling out its entire NCAA ticket allotment in just one day.”
Last year at the Tampa Frozen Four, DU was the only one of the four participating universities not to have its pep band and cheerleaders at the event. Internal budgetary restrictions were cited as the reason that they were left in Denver. Their absence was noted by many in attendance, and this year, DU was clearly ready to step up and send them.
DU does send the Pioneer Pep Band and Cheerleaders each year to the Summit League Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. as part of a league-wide agreement among all participating schools, but relatively few DU fans actually attend that event.
“I am really impressed by the different departments within the DU administration to work together to find the resources to get the band and cheer team to Chicago,” said Thompson. “It will mean a lot to DU fans of every era to hear our Denver fight song played at the United Center and associated events –not just the Notre Dame fight song. Our cheerleaders could also bring extra color and life to our fan sections and pre-game activities, and having some DU students at the game will improve our noise level.”
NCAA rules allow up to 25 band members and 12 uniformed cheerleaders to represent the participating schools.
“There were a lot of moving pieces involved,” said Macneill. “However, [DU Athletic Director Peg Bradley-Doppes] really wanted to find a way to make it happen. We really can’t thank [DU administrators] Carl Johnson and Lili Rodriguez from DU Campus Life enough for partnering with us.”
Additionally, along with the help of DU Campus Life and Undergraduate Student Government (USG) DU will be offering a small block of free game tickets for DU students. Tickets will be available for every game DU plays. There will be a limit of 1 ticket per student. Details are set to go out to students later today (Thursday. March 30).
“We looked into a bus that students could hop on with band and cheer but it would have taken two days and it didn’t make sense for them to miss that much school,” said Macneill. “So we are flying out the band/cheer team to Chicago. However, if our students can get to Chicago [on their own], we may have some seats for them.” Students have until 8:00 am tomorrow (Friday, March 31) to e-mail a request for one of the limited amount of student tickets to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and will be notified by 12:00 noon Friday if they were successful. Should DU beat Notre Dame and go to the NCAA Championship Game on Saturday, additional student tickets are expected to become available.
Macneill also addressed the overall adult ticket situation that forced DU to scramble a bit earlier this week. “We knew the ticket demand for Chicago would be off the charts so we had to be really conservative with what we thought we could provide to our fans. Each school only receives 600 tickets and that is before we take care of our players’ families. We are extremely pleased we were able to accommodate every donor and season ticket holder who placed a ticket order. On top of that, I think a good number of our fans were able to purchase directly from the United Center. We will have a large DU contingent representing the Crimson & Gold in Chicago!”