Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: Creech Reorganizes DU Athletics Division

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DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics Karlton Creech/Photo Credit: DU

DU’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Karlton Creech has reorganized the athletic department’s structure after 17 months of observing DU’s high-performing athletic division. The changes come following the long-planned retirement of Ron Grahame, Creech’s principal deputy, who is retiring this week after decades of service to DU. 

Joining DU will be three new faces — former Maine Senior Associate Director of Athletics Lynn Coutts; former Miami (Fla.) Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration Josh Boone; and former Miami (Fla.) Assistant Athletic Director for Annual Giving Emily Boone. Two of these three new faces (Coutts and Josh Boone) will be on Creech’s senior team, along with several promoted DU veteran leaders taking on greater roles under Creech, specifically Deputy Athletic Director and Chief Revenue Officer Brandon Macneill, Deputy AD and Chief Operating Officer Stu Halsall and Deputy AD for Community and Diversity Bob Willis.

“[Former Vice Chancellor] Peg [Bradley-Doppes] handed me a high-quality staff to inherit when I took over last year,” Creech said in the DU press release. “Their hard work and dedication to the University of Denver Division of Athletics and Recreation speaks for itself on a day-to-day basis. They helped make it a smooth transition for me last year, and their leadership in their new roles will only help us improve every day.”

In his new role in the Division, Macneill will oversee fundraising, Denver’s external relations team (marketing, communications, tech services and creative), its ticket sales and operations and Denver Sports Properties, as well as serve as the primary sport administrator for men’s lacrosse and skiing.

With over 20 years of experience at the University of Denver, Halsall will continue to oversee Denver’s internal operations of event management, facilities, recreation and club sports, IT and the University of Denver Golf Club at Highlands Ranch, while also taking primary sport administration duties for gymnastics, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s golf.

Coutts, who served as Senior Associate AD with Creech in their time together at Maine, will be a sport administrator for hockey, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and volleyball while overseeing the Division’s efforts in Academic Support, Pioneer Performance, Leadership, Compliance and Financial Aid, Equipment and Student-Athlete Community Service.

Josh Boone will take the lead on budget development, financial process and reporting, strategic planning, contracts and human resources, while serving as the primary sport administrator for Denver’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs.  He likely replaces Dan VanAckeren, who recently left DU after 24 years in financial leadership roles.

Willis now has primary sport administration duties for men’s basketball and men’s and women’s tennis, while heading the Pioneers’ community outreach, diversity and inclusion and campus partnership efforts. Willis will also serve as the University of Denver’s liaison with the Denver Tennis Park.

Creech also announced the promotions of Julie Campbell, Cindi Nagai and Angel Field to Senior Associate Athletic Director, and former Assistant Director of Compliance Christina Pachuta to the director’s position in her department.

The Athletic Development Office will also see some changes as Emily Boone will take on the role of Associate AD for Development and Strategy, while Ryan Lowe will now serve as the Associate AD for Major Gifts.  Longtime DU veteran Beth Kuwata, whose roots at DU stretch back to the 1980s serving DU as a player, head volleyball coach and development administrator, will be soon leaving DU to take on a new development role at Purdue University.

QUICK ANALYSIS:

In general, DU fans should be pretty excited about this new structure. Creech has taken his time to carefully see and evaluate what’s working well and what needs improvement. He now feels comfortable enough to make strategic moves to improve the Division and begin to put his own stamp on it. While these moves appear to build on former Vice Chancellor Peg Bradley-Doppes’ successful basic formulas, Creech clearly wants to shore up sport-specific administrative support as Grahame retires, and this reorg should do that by better spreading the load among key administrators.  Having much of the senior team taking on more sport-specific responsibility should also help these administrators get closer to the athletes and coaches they support, which we believe is a great idea.

Additionally, the elevation of Brandon Macneill to oversee multiple areas including marketing should help to streamline DU’s external efforts for greater effectiveness, while having two development administrators (Ryan Lowe now joins Aimee Mandolini in this area) developing major gifts signals a greater priority for those key efforts. 

While we will certainly miss Ron Grahame, Dan VanAckeran and Beth Kuwata and are grateful for their many years of service to DU, we’re also excited to meet the three new faces and the outside-of-DU expertise they will bring to DU’s highest-performing division. The addition of Lynn Coutts to the team is particularly interesting, as she is a former Canadian athlete-turned coach who then became an administrator.  She obviously has a very high trust level with Creech, having worked with him at Maine.

We also want to congratulate those who have been promoted and wish them well in the new structure.

All in all, it’s clear that Creech is now shifting gears. After his first gear arrival mode of learning and listening, he has now shifted into second – making adjustments to get the team he wants in place and functioning well. Once the new team gets moving, we can foresee Creech moving into third gear, presumably on the major gift front and perhaps adding some more transformational athletic projects to help elevate DU to the next level.

Puck Swami is the internet moniker of a longtime DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views periodically here at LetsGoDU.