Head Alpine Coach Andy LeRoy Leaving DU for CU

Tim Healy is a regular contributor to LetsGoDU on collegiate skiing

The head coach of DU’s Alpine ski team, Andy LeRoy, is headed back to his alma mater to replace CU’s legendary head coach, Richard Rokos,  who is retiring after 35 years.

LeRoy coached at DU for 15 years and won 6 national championships for the Pioneers. LeRoy ranks 5th all-time for championships and second at DU behind the legendary Willie Schaeffler’s 13 titles. LeRoy’s Alpine teams have led the nationals in points 11 out of the past 15 years. He has coached 89 DU skiers who received All-American honors.

A CU Buffs announcement quoted LeRoy, “I know the gravity of this position and the history of CU. I can’t wait to raise the level of college ski racing to heights never seen before. To have the full support of such an outstanding administration and alumni network, we’re going to do some amazing things in the future.”

LeRoy’s departure opens up a coaching search for DU’s most successful athletic team with 24 national championships. While it is not a total surprise to see LeRoy return to his student-athlete roots and past stint as an assistant ski coach for those same Buffs, this is clearly a big loss for DU athletics. It is not known if other factors contributed to LeRoy’s move. Several seasons ago, the skiing coaching staff was consolidated and LeRoy’s title changed from ski team head coach to Alpine head coach. Over the past year, almost all athletic departments faced cuts/budget freezes during COVID-19 but we have to assume that prior ties to CU were the major draw for LeRoy.

Over the short term, we will have to wait and see if the roster remains stable during the transition.  LeRoy’s replacement is not currently in-house. In the interim, DU will have to find a replacement coach who can recruit and develop Alpine skiers as well as continue to elevate Denver’s nordic program if DU hopes to return to the top of the podium in the future.

The morning after…Additional Thoughts

While this move is sudden and shocking for DU, it really is not surprising. Behind the retiring Richard Rokos, Andy Leroy is the top collegiate alpine coach in the country. I bet that Andy was the first call (and probably only call) that CU made in the coaching search. Our guess would be that there is no bad blood between DU and Andy.
I am guessing this may have come as a surprise to DU. There is a tight-knit skiing community that Denver can leverage for a replacement. Board member Otto Tschudi, a championship skier for DU, should be leveraged to support the search much like Board member John Miller supported hockey in so many ways. LeRoy’s replacement will say a lot about Denver’s overall commitment to national championship competitiveness. Also, now may be a time to reevaluate the overall support structure. A Director would take administrative duties off the plate of the coaches who are recruiting and providing technical coaching to athletes. In other words, is DU skiing spread too thin at the head coach level?

Tim Healy

8 thoughts on “Head Alpine Coach Andy LeRoy Leaving DU for CU”

  1. With world cup, Olympic and elite skiiers now competing at the collegiate level, DU will have to hire a coach with extensive Alpine coaching experience. DU has a small cadre of supporters who know the landscape so, hopefully, they find the right person/people to take the program into the future. They also need to look at staffing – do they have enough resources to adequaely support the team, especially compaired to other regional foes Colorado and Utah who have deeper coaching benches than DU.These programs have directors, discipline coaches (Alpine/Nordic) and assistants.

  2. I will never blame a coach for wanting to coach at his alma mater in any sport. Andy Leroy did a great job at DU with six NCAA crowns, and we owe him a debt of thanks for all he did to keep DU in the NCAA race each year of his tenure.

    Now, DU has a decision to make. I hope DU truly scours the world to find a great new coach. It’s pretty clear that DU has reduced its investment in skiing in recent years with fewer coaches, and it is now paying the price for that reduction. It’s been three years since the last DU ski title, while Utah has won 3 of the last 4 NCAAs that have been held. CU wants to top DU, and they are keeping up their investment in the sport.

    Do people care? Less than 25 schools compete for the NCAAs in skiing and far fewer than that field full qualifying rosters. There is also the reality that 95% of the DU community has probably never been to a DU ski meet due to the long distance from campus and a lack of spectator comfort, and the only meet that ever draws fans is the NCAA meet. So it a pretty easy program for the school to reduce when money is tight.

    However, I think skiing does add enormously to DU’s reputation as a winter sports power, and having 24 NCAA titles in a really nice asset. I hope DU finds a way to invest in the sport once again, and regain its rightful place at the top of the sport.

  3. Ehhh, kind of a tool move. Appreciate him winning DU some championships, but the guy had no clue how to coordinate the program to achieve balanced success between alpine and nordic teams. Hope DU hires someone awesome to kick his ass every year, or at least 3 out of 4. And I hope DU has enough budget to get this done.

  4. Disappointing news. Anytime a coach in LeRoy’s position who has had so much success decides to move on, it’s a blow. It seems the program is in a transition phase of sorts. Dave Stewart left not too long ago if I remember correctly.

    Like most people, I only follow the ski team from the periphery and have never been to a meet, but the team is certainly a source of pride for the athletics program and I’m sure for the University as a whole.

    Having said all that, I can only assume the top priority for Creech at the moment is getting the basketball program moving in the right direction, and obviously that starts with finding the right coach. I wouldn’t want skiing or any sport for that matter to suffer at the hands of another sport in terms of budget, but something has to give. I would assume basketball would take priority, if for no other reason than future revenue potential.

  5. Is Leroy’s name mentioned in the same sentence as Willy Schaeffler’s name in the article above? It might not make grammatical sense, but please separate these two people with a period, as they do not belong in the same sentence, or even the same paragraph. Half-kidding. Leroy was fine, adequate, but 6 championships in 15 years is just average at DU. Sounds like he left by his decision, but in my opinion he should have been on the hot seat at DU anyway (though he did recruit some amazing alpine skiers) DU better not sacrifice anything with the ski program to satisfy the basketball program.. I’d rather win ski championships, than improve from a 2 win basketball program to a a 10 win basketball program.

    1. The ski program is terrific, don’t get me wrong. Great tradition and definitely a source of pride for DU. But let’s not kid ourselves–a relevant basketball program would be a massive step in the evolution of DU athletics. I don’t think the significance of a relevant basketball program can be overstated. Oral Roberts, from the Summit, just beat Ohio State earlier today. Can you imagine the excitement around here if DU earned a trip to national tournament?! It would be amazing. There are fans here to be had, and the revenue implications for DU and the athletic department would be huge. A good coach who knows how to recruit can make it happen. It’s not a pipe dream. Again, I’m not advocating for resources to be taken away from skiing or any other DU sport. But if the budget limitations require it for a relevant basketball program, sign me up. And I would imagine most DU fans would agree.

      1. I mostly agree with you Twister. But my assumption is that whatever cuts to the ski program that could be made would really hurt the ski program, and provide negligible help to the basketball program. Basketball needs a lot more than just an extra 100,000 a year saved by not paying an extra ski coach assistant. DU should not risk trashing smaller sports programs (especially one with a proud tradition like skiing), just to get the basketball program closer to mediocrity (which would be a big step up at this point).

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