Tag Archives: College 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

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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

PUCK SWAMI: Saying goodbye to Pioneer Hockey Champion Jim Wiste

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Over 1,000 people, ranging from famous NHLers to Campus Lounge bar regulars, came to say goodbye to former Pioneer Captain Jim Wiste (1946-2018) at a touching memorial service on the ice of the University of Denver’s Magness Arena on January 11th.

DU and Wiste’s family put together an impressive tribute, complete with on-ice floral displays, an excellent video of Wiste’s life (shown on the scoreboard), and a post-event reception with extensive photos of Wiste’s life well-lived — as hockey player, entrepreneur, tavern-owner and host, husband, father, and grandfather. Continue reading PUCK SWAMI: Saying goodbye to Pioneer Hockey Champion Jim Wiste

Jim Wiste, Pioneer Captain, 1946-2018

Most of you know by now that former Denver two-time all-American Hockey Captain Jim Wiste passed away this week from heart issues at the age of 71. Wiste, who co-captained the 1968 NCAA Champion Pioneers had a solid professional hockey career in the NHL and WHA after winning the NCAA title at DU. But he was perhaps best known around Denver as the owner of the venerable Campus Lounge, a Denver neighborhood tavern, for the 40 years between 1976 and 2016.

Wiste was part of the very first wave of college players to go from college hockey to NHL hockey in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the plucky center managed to save enough money from his hockey career to buy the Campus Lounge when his hockey playing days ended. Continue reading Jim Wiste, Pioneer Captain, 1946-2018

Denver Pioneers Rout Boston College, 6-1 to Complete Boston Weekend Sweep

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DU’s Henrik Borgström had two goals for Denver against BC. Photo: University of Denver

In their most complete game of the season to date, the #1-ranked Denver Pioneers (4-0-2) exploded for three-goal third period to rout #19th-ranked Boston College, 6-1, before nearly 5,000 fans at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The win over BC, when coupled with DU’s Friday 4-3 win over Boston University, sent a strong national message that the Pioneers are the team to beat this season.

“Looking at our team, that was the best performance of the year especially offensively,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery after game.  “We really showed skill tonight. We made a lot of plays and were really good at managing the puck…We executed great on everything…From our goaltender out, our communication was the best I’ve seen it all year as far as talking and puck support.”

Denver’s all-America candidates stepped up and led in a big way, as Finnish sensation Henrik Borgström had two goals, including the eventual game-winner. Troy Terry had three assists on the evening and Dylan Gambrell scored a goal and added a pair of assists to pace the Pioneer attack, joining the elite 100-point club for DU career scoring.  DU defenseman Blake Hillman also potted his first two goals of the season to help the Pioneers, and Tyson McLellan scored his first of the season for the other Pioneer marker on a feed from Gambrell.

“Denver has dynamic players,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “They may be better [this year] than they were last year.”

Denver had jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first two periods, and looked to cruise to victory, but BC clawed it’s way back into the game with a lone power play goal coming on a tip by Christopher Brown 1:45 into the third period to cut the DU lead to two goals. But the Pioneers responded with three unanswered goals in the third to blow the game open and complete the Boston sweep.

The Pioneers travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan next weekend to open NCHC play against Western Michigan.

Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Photo courtesy John Leyba, The Denver Post

The NCAA must have been sweating it out last year experimenting with Chicago as a first-time destination for the Frozen Four.  The Windy City does not have any Division I hockey programs, and strangely neither does the rest of the state of Illinois despite a large number of top college players coming from that area.  Yet the NCAA rolled the dice on a major city that has recently gone hockey-crazy because of their Blackhawks. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2017-18 Denver Hockey: Comprehensive freshman class profile

Photo credit: Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today

Summer is finally over and Fall is upon us once again. Rather than waking up to the bright, piercing sun, we’re waking up to cool, crisp mornings. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back and Major League Baseball playoff races are heating up (the Rockies are still in it!) and we’ve reached the final days of September. All of this means only one thing. College hockey is finally right around the corner. Continue reading 2017-18 Denver Hockey: Comprehensive freshman class profile

Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 11.01.04 PM(Photo Credits: University of Denver (Grahame, Peck), Swarthmore College (Akotaobi), Tulane University (Macneill), St. Cloud St. University (Weems), Blacktop Colorado (Willis)

We’ve now had a few days to process the major change in athletic leadership coming our way as DU fans: DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes announced her retirement at the end of the 2017/18 school year.  While longtime DU Deputy Athletic Director Ron Grahame is taking over the athletic director’s day-to-day responsibilities immediately, DU also announced that a nationwide search would take place this year to ultimately fill the vice-chancellor’s position that Peg has filled so well for the last nearly 15 years. Continue reading Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Will Butcher to wait until August to sign NHL deal, will test free agency

Photo credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Our friends at BSN Denver have reported that 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher has decided to wait until August 15th, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, to sign with an NHL team. DU’s prized defenseman and captain for the 2016-17 National Championship winning team was drafted by Denver’s own Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Continue reading Will Butcher to wait until August to sign NHL deal, will test free agency

Colorado College Hockey introduces unique road onesies

Colorado College bucked tradition on Monday morning when they introduced their new road onesies. Called ‘The Prowler’  by the manufacturer,  the new design is certain to draw attention to the visiting Tigers when they’re on the road.

“Classy,” said sophomore defenseman Alex Pernitsky. “Cool” said forward, Trey Bradley. And “Unencumbered,” said goalie Alex LeClerc at the uniform launch event.

According to head coach Mike Haviland, the team will travel with two sets of uniforms on the road. One for games and one for bedtime. “The manufacturer added zippers to the cuffs so the boys can add feet for bedtime.”

The CC equipment manager praised the new design. “Our one-size-fits-all design provides plenty of room for hip pads and the one-piece construction makes laundry easy,” said a gleaming Gord “Spud” Hamilton.

“This definitely makes up for losing our top defenseman [Teemu Kivikalme] last month,” said Coach Haviland.