Category Archives: Men’s Sports

WAC wobbles as Chicago State circles the drain

The University of Denver’s former and short-lived conference, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), recently added Cal-Baptist to stabilize the ‘conference of last resort.’ Then, Cal State Bakersfield announced its intention to go to the Big West and UMKC recently announced its plans to flee back to the Summit League. The WAC again returns to eight members with the future addition of Dixie State (Utah) to add stability but not necessarily respectability.

Now, another WAC member is on the ropes. According to an August article in the Chicago Crusader, “Student-athletes and coaches are concerned about the University’s commitment to Division I athletics”. With an interim athletic director, no sports information director, only one trainer for the entire department and no compliance manager, it is now only a matter of time until the Cougars fold their tent. Continue reading WAC wobbles as Chicago State circles the drain

Pioneer Athletics caught in the middle of TV network distribution war

It seems like every year, this financial war dance seems to happen between cable content providers and their associated distribution networks. And, barring an eleventh hour miracle agreement, we will have another one begin to directly and adversely affect viewers starting Saturday night at midnight.

And cable continues to be the only consumer product that is purchased and 80-90% thrown away by the consumer.

Altitude TV is the major television partner and provider for DU athletics, covering men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, women’s gymnastics, and volleyball. Altitude is also the home network for the NHL Colorado Avalanche, NBA Denver Nuggets, MLS Colorado Rapids and NLL Colorado Mammoth and is currently in negotiations with Comcast/Xfinity, DISH Network and DIRECTV to keep its sports programming channel on those three major cable and satellite distribution platforms.

According to Colorado Hockey Now, “The “carriage” contracts between Altitude TV and Denver and surrounding’s big three cable providers – DISH Network, Comcast/Xfinity and DirecTV – are expiring and the two sides are…not anywhere close to an agreement to re-up with each other.

In the case of DISH, the contract has already expired and Altitude is NO LONGER AVAILABLE right now. At midnight Saturday (tonight), Altitude will vanish from both Comcast and DirecTV if there is no new agreement. Continue reading Pioneer Athletics caught in the middle of TV network distribution war

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

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

Ron Grahame officially sets September 1 retirement date, DU announces

Photo: Courtesy of The Denver Post

As expected, Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations Karlton Creech spent his first year observing department operations while making few operational or personnel changes. One of his key lieutenants during this period was Ron Grahame, who acted as Interim Athletic Director following Peg Bradley-Doppes’ departure and currently holds the title of Associate Vice Chancellor & Department Athletic Director. During his long career, Ron provided an experienced and steady hand, especially when it came to DU hockey operations, Denver’s premier sport.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, DU Athletics finished yet another year of incredible success with their 11th Director’s Cup in 12 years.

Now, according to Denver Athletics, Ron Grahame will retire in about two weeks, on September 1st, followed by a handful of other changes within DU’s athletic department. We will have more on Ron Grahame’s storied career and contributions to the University in an upcoming feature but anyone who knows Grahame knows that he put DU athletes first in all of his decisions. A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Grahame was one of the greatest goaltenders in DU Hockey history. He played in the NHL and spent most of his professional career supporting and guiding Denver athletics. He will be truly missed by all at DU. Continue reading Ron Grahame officially sets September 1 retirement date, DU announces

Cozy Summit League relationships cast dark shadow over Augustana

Photo: Courtesy of Argus Leader. The new Summit League’s office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on the Sanford Health Campus is now nearing completion. 

Conference coaches jokingly refer to the Summit League as the ‘Sanford League’. But let’s hope the Dakota-centric league rethinks their reliance on North and South Dakota for new members. With only 880,000 people in South Dakota and 760,000 people in North Dakota, a fifth DI member from one of the two states, Augustana University, may be too many – even for die-hard locals.

Can a small state like South Dakota support a third Division I program? Will Augustana cannibalize other South Dakota member fan bases? Will the addition of yet one more member persuade non-Dakota members to either depart or deter new member schools from other states from joining? Continue reading Cozy Summit League relationships cast dark shadow over Augustana

Why Baseball and Augustana College Drove UMKC’s Summit League Return

Why did the Summit League add UMKC and why now?

The addition of UMKC takes the number of schools in the Summit League to 10 – an ideal number for scheduling, travel partners and stability.

But not so fast.

It has been known for quite some time that current Summit member Fort Wayne has been expected to leave the conference for a more geographically convenient landing spot, like the Horizon Conference – even Summit League commissioner Tom Douple has admitted so. And, it seems Western Illinois is always balancing precariously on the financial ropes. But interestingly, the biggest concern of many Summit League members is the future of baseball. With only six teams, the Summit barely meets the NCAA minimum for an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament. The loss of either the Mastodons or Leathernecks would likely be fatal to baseball – especially to Summit League members on the southern flank. Continue reading Why Baseball and Augustana College Drove UMKC’s Summit League Return

Rapid Reaction: UMKC Returning to Summit League

According to a report from the Washington Post, the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) is leaving the Western Athletic Conference and returning to the Summit League for the 2020-2021 season. The addition of UMKC will bring conference membership to ten schools. The move makes it unclear what will happen with Augustana College – a school considered to be a shoo-in for the Summit League’s tenth opening when they transition to Division I play.

Interestingly, reports cited an ‘invitation’ which was extended by the Summit League to UMKC. According to the Washington Post, “We’re thankful to the WAC and their commitment to Division I excellence. We accepted the invitation to return to the Summit League because, after careful review, we believe it will help us achieve our goals,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said in a statement. Continue reading Rapid Reaction: UMKC Returning to Summit League

Five Big Takeaways from 2018-2019

DU Women Dominated the Field

While recent season’s showed DU men overshadowing their women counterparts, 2018-2019 was the Year of Women in Athletics at DU. Women’s hoops, led by Jim Turgeon,  went 18-14 and won a first round NIT road contest against New Mexico. Women’s golf won the Summit League and went to the NCAA’s. Gymnastics advanced to the NCAA team finals – the first time ever and showed that they have the potential to be the first women’s team at Denver to win a national championship. Liza Kelly directed women’s lacrosse to a 16-4 record and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Women’s soccer, a long time staple at Denver, went 13-6-2, won the Summit League and went to the NCAA playoffs. Women’s tennis drove their way way to a 17-6 record with a power five schedule, won the Summit League and went to the NCAA’s. Volleyball went 27-3 – undefeated during the Summit League regular season and advanced to the NCAA’s.

What is even more amazing, these women’s teams may be even better next season. Continue reading Five Big Takeaways from 2018-2019

Denver Athletics’ elephant in the room

Denver Men’s Basketball.

With perennial national contenders that fill the halls of Ritchie Center, the Denver Athletics program boasts a rich tradition and history of success. And yet, somehow the men’s basketball program has fallen behind and continues to be a puzzle at best. It’s a program that should be able to contend in the Summit League but is showing troubling signs of regression.

Some claim that with DU’s rich hockey tradition, basketball will never prosper at University and Evans, while other DU fans hope basketball never prospers at all, as it may be seen to threaten hockey’s long-standing primacy as DU’s winter flagship sport.  Still others, likely the larger crowd, wish for a day when both sports flourish and cheering crowds flock to Magness Arena in support of both programs. Count us in that latter group. Continue reading Denver Athletics’ elephant in the room

It’s that time again to give back – #1Day4DU

The University of Denver has targeted only one day as their primary campaign to drive giving to the University – and today is the day.

Once again, there are a number of great causes you can give to during the University of Denver’s #1Day4DU. And, it is easier than ever this year to navigate your giving options and help DU students.

As usual, we hope part of your gift giving will include Denver Athletics – the most successful division at the University. We also believe Club Sports & Alpine Club provide valuable experiences for students and create lifelong bonds between participants and the University of Denver.

As a reminder, the Denver Athletic Department just completed one of their best years – ever. The Athletic Department is headed for yet another Director’s Cup. But that means Denver must continue to recruit and retain some of the best coaches, staff and athletes in collegiate athletics. And, there is ‘cost-of-attendance’ to retain students who are many times from out of state or even outside the US.  So, we believe the option to Invest in the Student Athlete is a great choice this year.

Please take some time today and give. And, of course, GO Pioneers!