We were not entirely surprised when Denver announced a multiyear contract extension today for head men’s soccer Coach Jamie Franks. With the current uncertainty around men’s soccer in the Summit League with the exit of Western Illinois, Franks had to be on the radar for any number of college openings and his players and recruits were surely looking for answers.
In the official release, Denver’s Athletic Director Josh Berlo said, “Jamie has established the University of Denver men’s soccer team as a nationally competitive program. Moreover, this group not only wins at a high level nationally on the field, but also in the classroom. Jamie’s teams have routinely produced GPAs that rank in the top two in Division I men’s soccer. Concurrently, his student-athletes are highly engaged in the community and great representatives of our University. We are proud to have Jamie continue to lead the Pioneer men’s soccer program for the foreseeable future.”
Summit League men’s soccer currently fields five teams, one short of an auto-qualifier. However, the NCAA typically provides conferences a waiver for one or two seasons to fill a minimum member number of six to receive a conference auto bid to the NCAA Tournament. As a result, the Summit League and the University of Denver will have time to evaluate their options. A conference auto bid is a valuable commodity to any NCAA DI program, especially one whose goals include winning a national title. However, there are few obvious men’s soccer teams available to immediately fill the conference opening. Franks is known to schedule a challenging non-conference preseason slate as well as quality non-conference matches during the regular conference season to bolster his team’s national RPI positioning entering the postseason.
The announced signing provides immediate stability to Franks, his players, and recruits who were likely to bolt if the situation started to look unstable in the Summit League. It also keeps suitors away from Franks who may see the Denver program as vulnerable and attempt to lure Franks away from University and Evans. Many programs would relish the opportunity to land Franks and his 97-33-23 record which includes seven NCAA Tournament appearances in his eight seasons.
Now, the ball is literally in the hands of Summit League Commissioner Josh Fenton and fellow conference university presidents to identify and provide either associate membership status or add a full-time member to the Summit League. If the Summit League cannot find a suitable option over the next season or two, Denver will be left to explore other options with its men’s soccer program.
Photo of Franks courtesy Denver Athletics