5 takeaways from DU Athletics’ ‘Strategic Plan’

You may have seen the recent announcement by DU Athletics of their 2017-2022 Strategic Plan.

Strategic plans can often be dry and esoteric but they also provide insight into the value that DU places on athletics in the future. So, here are our 5 big takeaways:


Lots of organizations share their mission statements, vision, and values. However, few actually share their strategic plan. It’s good that the Denver Division of Athletics and Recreation openly share their Strategic Plan with their stakeholders – i.e. us. This is the third public Strategic Plan developed by the department and shared with the broader public.

Athletics act as the ‘Front Porch’ For DU

Overall, the document smartly aligns the University of Denver athletics department with the broader University of Denver goal to more actively engage the Denver community, the region, and to some degree the nation. LetsGoDU talked about this before: DU District Helps Athletics. The idea of a ‘University of Denver District’ and DU Impact 2025 Plan are much more than brick and mortar projects. These initiatives are aimed at engaging the University with the external community and stakeholders in creating lasting connections. Athletics act as a visible bridge to the broader community – as we saw during DU Hockey’s National Championship run. The  Strategic Plan is in alignment with DU’s overall Strategic Plan which means that athletics are relevant and important to DU’s future.

Students First

The athletic’s strategic plan focuses on student-athletes by tracking Graduation Success Rate (GSR), Academic Performance Rate (APR) and annual grade point average (GPA). Then, if necessary identify at-risk student-athletes who need help. DU athletes have a higher graduation rate than the undergraduate population at large and academic success helps maintain the credibility for DU athletics. As we all know, many of the colleges that favor athletic performance over character and academics have damaged their reputations and brand. Not at DU – and that is a good thing. DU is proving that you really can have both.

Continued Excellence on the Court, Field, Ice, & Snow

Directors Cup

Denver is going to continue to hold ambitious conference and national goals. Denver will target the Director’s Cup title by finishing as the Top Division 1-AAA program on an annual basis. Finish among top 20 percent of Division I institutions annually in each of DU’s programs and qualify and participate in NCAA postseason at national and conference levels in 80% of DU’s 15 Division I athletic programs. Ambitious, no doubt. Denver has to have one of the most aggressive plans of any athletic department in the country.

The Cost of Success

Facilities, administrators, staff, and coaches cost money. There is always a cost to achieve excellence, especially at the DI level. The athletic department is going to have to spend money efficiently while working with corporate partners, advertisers, and ticket sales to increase revenue streams to achieve their stated goals. With very few revenue-producing sports, donors will play an important role in funding athletic operations with an objective to increase donor participation rates by 10% per year. Still, DU athletic events on average continue to be some of the best values in the Denver market.

One additional note in the athletic’s Strategic Plan was the recognition that “cheerleading, pep band, and dance teams supported the fan experience and was moving Denver to a level equivalent to that of other marquee Division I Institutions”. This, and other spirit related topics, were cited in the document and show the importance of growing and enhancing the game experience at DU, which is something we care deeply about at LetsGoDU.