Category Archives: Co-ed Sports

Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: DU’s Choice of Maine AD Karlton Creech is a “Safe Hire”

The hiring of University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech as DU’s new Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation looks to be a ‘safe’ hire for the University of Denver, likely to build incrementally on the legacy of the retiring Peg Bradley-Doppes, who spent the last 13 years in the position. Creech begins at DU on May 1, 2018.

DU wanted to hire a “sitting” AD and did just that. Creech will inherit a DU athletic program that is flying high as the best non-football athletic department in the country, but still faces many challenges going forward.

In the world of D-I college athletics, a sitting AD moving from Maine to Denver is seen as something of a lateral move. Creech’s stated leadership style is to put athletes and coaches ahead of himself, and that leadership style was likely very attractive to DU, where current athletic leadership also shares that low-key management style. As Creech has been working at state schools for his entire career, he will certainly understand budget restrictions. That said, DU is a richer school (with a $700+ million endowment in 2018, compared to around $300 million for Maine) that does not have some of the location disadvantages that Orono, Maine must cope with as a rural university in a rural state. DU is also a more successful school athletically than Maine, and Creech won’t have to worry about a money-sucking football program here in Denver.

Creech, who joined Maine as AD in 2014 after 10 years in senior athletic positions at the University of North Carolina, checks many of the key sport boxes that Pioneer fans will care about.  Maine has a very proud tradition in men’s ice hockey (that is on the way up again after a period of stagnation), and Creech’s experience at the school that produced current DU hockey coach Jim Montgomery should be a relief for those DU hockey fans who feared DU might select a new Athletic Director who would not understand hockey’s unique primacy and tradition at DU.

Creech also spent 10 years at the University of North Carolina from 2004-2014, which has recent NCAA basketball and lacrosse championships, a fact that will no doubt be attractive to DU fans who wanted an AD who understands basketball and lacrosse at a high level. Peg Bradley-Doppes also spent time at North Carolina, so I am sure that connection will be a helpful bridge in the transition period. Creech also has a major soft spot for the sport of golf, as his wife was a golfer at UNC, and he also avidly plays the sport himself.

Creech earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University in 1995, and his master’s degree at Liberty University in Virginia in 2014.

While financial terms for Creech’s DU deal were not disclosed, the DU job will likely be a large pay upgrade for Creech, who was on year two of a four-year deal at Maine, where he had a base salary of $183,855 plus a donor-provided yearly supplement of $25,000 for an annual total salary of $208,855.  At DU, Peg Bradley-Doppes earned about $370,000 in salary and other DU income in 2014, according to DU’s most recently available 2014 form 990. We believe Creech signed a five-year deal at DU.

I look at this hire as a good one — perhaps not transformational or game-changing, but certainly one where we can expect competence and progression. The biggest areas of concern I have from a sports perspective are primarily around Maine’s dreadful basketball performance in the 2014-2018 period, when Creech was there.  DU must improve its basketball program and that is where his attention needs to be. I also have some concerns from a marketing perspective, as Creech does not have experience working with schools in large urban markets. If we were expecting the new AD to fill seats here, it will probably not happen with marketing genius or spending, but rather with winning teams and community engagement.

Peg Bradley-Doppes was certainly the best AD DU has ever had, and her shoes are big ones to fill. She has done much of the heavy lifting already in terms of hiring great coaches (her specialty), facilities, team performance, graduation rates and departmental GPA.  DU still has big work to do in terms of future conference affiliation, creating national basketball relevance and gaining more traction in our own city. The athletic department also faces a punishing financial climate in which DU must compete with schools with many more resources.

Finally, Creech will need to deal with a central DU administration under Chancellor Chopp that has been uneven in how it treats athletics. The Chancellor appears to know the benefits of athletics and supports it in her public words.  But in her budgets, in her antipathy toward DU’s mascot (and possibly DU’s nickname as well) and in her treatment of some within DU athletics, it is clear that more work needs to be done. We hope Creech is up for it, and we’re here to support him!

Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a longtime DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views here periodically at LetsGoDU. Photo Credit: University of Denver

Five Denver Pioneers to compete in 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea

terry Goal
Troy Terry (DU’19) is one of  only four NCAA players to make the US Olympic Ice Hockey Team (Photo: University of Denver)

Your University of Denver Pioneers will be very well-represented when the Olympic Winter Games begin in Pyongchang, South Korea later this February 9th-25th, with five Crimson and Gold athletes set to compete, representing four different countries and two different sports. Continue reading Five Denver Pioneers to compete in 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea

Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

After a year that saw the University of Denver athletic department experience a few exciting firsts…and an astounding, much-needed eighth, the Pioneers, DU’s men’s sports specifically, were properly recognized for a strong showing over the course of the year. As Florida topped LSU in the Men’s College World Series earlier this week, the 2016-17 NCAA Division I calendar came to an end. After the dust settled and the points were tallied, the DU men finished in the top five, number four to be exact, of the men’s Capital One Cup standings for the first time ever. Continue reading Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

Photo Courtesy University of Denver Magazine

LetsGoDU friend CD Dunks reminds us that there is no need to use the term ‘mid-major’. And the same goes for ‘secondary sport’ – i.e. any sport that is not called football or Power-Five conference basketball. The big question is: Has Peg Bradley-Doppes simply built one of the finest athletic department in the land?  Continue reading Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

A masterclass in heartbreak: Denver at the 2017 NCAA Ski Championships

Photo courtesy of fasterskier.com. Utah celebrates their 2017 NCAA National Team Championship

Tim Healy is a special guest columnist to LetsGoDU. Tim studied Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management at DU and follows the ski team closely. As the 4-day championships are concluded, here are Tim’s final thoughts on this season’s NCAA ski championships. 

Well……what a finish to the 2017 NCAA Skiing Championships. I’m still in shock about what happened Saturday (but a big thank you to the Hockey and Lacrosse teams for helping me get out of my shock by winning their games in spectacular fashion), so please forgive me if this piece is a little “incoherent”.  I’ll do my very best to explain what happened this weekend. Continue reading A masterclass in heartbreak: Denver at the 2017 NCAA Ski Championships

Denver loses heartbreaker in 15K finale – Pioneer’s Slide to 3rd Place

Denver had a 34.5 point lead over Utah and 42 point advantage over the Colorado Buffalos heading into the final day. The men looked like they delivered the knockout blow in the morning with an overwhelming performance and extended the Pioneer advantage. But, it all came down to the women’s freestyle finale in frigid, windy conditions. Denver faded while CU (1st & 3rd) and Utah (5th & 6th) owned the top 10 finishes.

In a stunning turn of events, Denver’s seemingly insurmountable lead melted as the scores were calculated. DU dropped to third place with 524 points – trailing 2nd place CU by 1 single point. Utah took the title with 541.5 points.   Continue reading Denver loses heartbreaker in 15K finale – Pioneer’s Slide to 3rd Place

Denver Claims Top Spot – Day 3

Photo courtesy of denverpioneers.com

With only one day to go, Denver moved ever-closer to their 24th NCAA skiing title today behind three top ten Alpine performances by DU. On the women’s side, Andrea Komsic placed 2nd and Monica Huebner placed 4th in slalom. Erik Read scored a 3rd place finish in slalom for the DU men.

DU takes the lead after a crazy outstanding performance by the alpine team!! Here are your top 3 entering the final day:
1. DU – 419 pts
2. Utah- 384.5 pts
3. Colorado- 377 pts
Expect DU to control the field in tomorrow’s Nordic freestyle races to fend off Utah an Colorado. This is going to be a fun Saturday! I’ll be glued to my computer and tweeting!

Tomorrow’s schedule: Saturday, March 11

8 a.m. MT – Men’s 20K Freestyle: Mass Start

10 a.m. MT – Women’s 15K Freestyle: Mass Start

-Tim Healy #GoForXXIV

https://twitter.com/609Healy

 

 

 

Skiing Championships at the midway point: DU tangles with familiar foes

Tim Healy is a special guest columnist to LetsGoDU. Tim Studied Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management at DU and follows the ski team closely. As the 4-day championships hit the mid-point, here are Tim’s thoughts on this season’s NCAA ski championships. 

The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships came to a close Sunday, February 26th in Minturn, Colorado, the Colorado Buffalo’s won the team title by a razor-thin margin of 7.5 points over Denver. Utah was third and Montana State held third and fourth place. Continue reading Skiing Championships at the midway point: DU tangles with familiar foes

2017 NCAA Skiing Championship Preview

Photo courtesy fasterskier.com

Tim Healy is a special guest columnist to LetsGoDU. Tim Studied Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management at DU and follows the ski team closely. As the NCAA championships begin today, here are Tim’s thoughts on DU’s proscpects. 

As the 2017 NCAA Skiing Championships begin today at Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, one can only imagine how well our Pioneer’s will fare on the East Coast. As hard as it is to predict how a skier is going to on any particular day, I’m going to do my best.

The Pioneers are coming into this meet about as strong as ever this season. So, I am cautiously optimistic that the Pioneers will secure a second consecutive title over the next four days. But, it won’t be easy.

Let’s start with the Alpine team: On the women’s side, we have Monica Huebner, Tuva Norbe, and Andrea Komsic representing DU in the Giant Slalom (GS) and Slalom (SL) events. These are three very strong ladies who have been seeded in the top 10 for both the GS and the SL. They have been performing strong all season with consistent top 10 finishes and are primed to get the Pioneers a lot of points in the overall standings.

For the men, we have Alex Leever, Erik Read, and Tanner Farrow. I will say this might be our weakest aspect of the championship team. The men have been seeded 11-13 in the GS and 5,8,11 in the slalom, respectively. The real “wildcard” here is Erik Read. Erik has not been racing in a lot of the NCAA meets this season because he has been racing in the World Cup circuit for Canada (see Denver Post). This fact alone makes him one of the only, if not the only, racer in the championships who has been consistently racing World Cup races this season. He even represented Canada at the World Championships in Switzerland last month. It’s hard to say how Erik will do without really seeing him much this season. If he skis as strong as he does on the World Cup circuit, he should walk away with an individual title.

Now let’s shift over to the Nordic team. For the women, we have Taeler McCrerey, Linn Eriksen, and Sylvia Nordskar. If the ladies can continue the current up swing in their very strong performance at Regionals a couple of weeks ago, then we should see another individual title and lots of points for the overall title. The ladies are seeded kind of all over the place for both the 5k Classical and the 15k Freestyle, so you can’t really use that as a judgment of how they will do. But, as DU ski fans may remember, Junior Linn Erikson was DU’s cross country superstar who clinched the title in last year’s championship with a dominant win.

On the men’s side, the Pioneers have Moritz Madlener, Dag Frode Trolleboe, and Lars Hannah. These three guys might just be our strongest aspect of the 12 person championship team. They are seeded at the top of the field for both the 10k Classical and the 20k Freestyle events. These guys have been very strong the whole season. Unlike last season where the Nordic team caught the flu midway through the season and never seemed to fully recover.

My take: This team is strong. Alpine Head Coach Andy LeRoy told me just before they left on Sunday, “I am really looking forward to this next week in New Hampshire.  Our alpine team has put in a ton of work and looks great right now.  If we can ski strong and remain focused on executing our plan, there is no doubt in my mind we will return as champions.” The wildcard for the championship meet is the fact is in in New England, where the snow is a lot different than in the west (lots of very firm, icy conditions) and they are every changing. We will be fending off our usual foes in University of Colorado, University of Utah, and Montana State. However, since the championships are in the east this year, we could very well see a strong eastern team such as Vermont or Dartmouth emerge as a strong contender this year.

You can follow along with the action with the NCAA’s live stream at ww.ncaa.com/liveschedule. You can also follow the live timing at http://barttiming.com/eisa/results17/ncaa17.htm. I will be also live tweeting as best I can, so follow me on twitter at @609Healy.

This is going to be a fun and exciting championships to watch. To close all I have to say is LET’S GO PIONEERS! LET’S BRING HOME #24!!

DU Ski Team follows a balancing act to achieve national success

Photo Courtesy of Denver Athletics.

Most Pioneer fans know that the University of Denver has won an incredible number of NCAA team championships. DU now ranks 12th out of all Division I NCAA universities with 31, trailing traditional athletic powerhouses like UCLA, Stanford, and Michigan. The Pioneers are currently tied with the University of Oregon. Continue reading DU Ski Team follows a balancing act to achieve national success