Sunbelt Conference Dilemma Hangs Over DU

(above) DU's NCAA Recertification discussion

From: DU Clarion
by Steve Coulter & Caddie Nath

A committee of DU faculty hosted a meeting last Wednesday to discuss the NCAA re-certification of the school’s Division I athletics program and the process DU has taken so far in conducting its self-study. A discussion ensued regarding the athletic program’s current affiliation with the Sun Belt Conference.

“Our biggest issue right now is conference affiliation,” said Peg Bradley-Doppes, director of then Division of Athletics and Recreation, “It’s on the top of everyone’s mind. The SBC is a home for us right now as we search for a better fit.”

Doppes said DU must get better in sports such as basketball, because the school lacks major sports teams such as football and baseball, which could attract other conferences.

“DU is special to the SBC, because schools in the SBC don’t have sports like skiing, hockey and lacrosse,” said Doppes. “Conferences such as the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) and the Mountain West care only about core sports and we don’t have a football team.”

She added that there will be a continued ripple effect in change in Division I conference affiliation in years to come and that a move would make sense for DU, because student athletes would miss less class and feel more connected to campus without having to endure long road trips.

The proximity of a potential new conference is certainly key factor in a possible change in conference, however the most important concern is making the change permanent for Denver athletics.

“We have to get better and that takes time,” said Doppes. “This is a move that is not for the short term, we are talking about 50 years from now. We are trying to change the complexion of the university” (read entire article).


puck swami said...

DU would love to be in a more appropriate conference, but there needs to be more moves in larger conferences to open up mid-major slots via the ripple effect.

This may take a few more years, or it could happen soon.

dggoddard said...

Is the Sunbelt Conference kicking DU to the curb or is it the other way around?

Anonymous said...

The other way around...DU wants bigger and better, especially for basketball. If DU gets into Mountain West, they face schools like UNLV regularly. That means they can bring in better recruits for a higher level of competition.

Aluuum said...

The Sun Belt Conf. never was a good fit for D.U. Louisiana, Tenn. etall have very little logistical connection to a western state like Colorado. Peg is a good A.D. and has a formidable challenge on her hands to fix. It will take time.

But for us hockey nuts it really doesn't make much difference.We will always be connected to the WCHA even if it realigns in some form in the future.

Puck swami said...

DU had little choice but to join the Belt 11 years ago as it was the only conference that wanted us. If It were easily fixed, we would have left for another conference by now. Without football and a high-attendence hoops program, our appeal is very limited...we are a Patriot league type of school that is stuck in the rockies.

When the BCS realigns, hopefully that will open up some slots for midmajors to move.,,,

Anonymous said...

hoping for a move to the WAC. it would be a great move for DU. playing against gonzaga. saint mary's, and even LMU would be great for DU. Better competition

Bill said...

Those schools aren't in the WAC, they are in the West Coast Conference. This conference makes the most sense for DU to join. Similar size and type of schools, none of them play football and geographically this conference makes a ton of sense. Plus if one of the goals is to increase the profile of the hoops program, the Zags and St. Mary's have turned this into a higher profile hoops conference. The only sport that the WCC schools play that DU does not play is Baseball. And Rowing.

Aluuum said...

Anon 3:29
Gonzaga and ST. Mary's would be a perfect fit . How about U of San Francisc and Santa Clara also. Hell, we might as well dream. I'm having a glass of wine and that always inspires me.
That's five,we need three more.

Aluuum said...

Come on Swami-you can come up with one or two more.

Anonymous said...

i've heard that the wcc is possibly open to expand by two, but the favorites are Pacific and Seattle U (a former wcc member). I would love to have DU make it though... a perfect fit!

Aluuum said...

That makes seven We send D.G. on the road to sell it.
D.U. ST. Mary's Gonzaga Santa Clara U.of San F. Pacific Seattle U.

dggoddard said...

The only conference that would really benefit DU and make sense geographically is the Mountain West: New Mexico, BYU, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, Utah, TCU, Wyoming & Air Force.

Lets face it, the Mountain West wants nothing to do with DU.

I can't see cash strapped California schools wanting to fly to Colorado in non-revenue sports.

Drop M & W hoops, save $1 million a year, add women's and men's cross county and pass the cost savings along to the soccer, skiing, lax and swimming programs.

puck swami said...

DU wanted to be in the WCC in the late 90s when they returned to D-I. They even offered financial incentives to the WCC to join, but the WCC presidents said no due to travel concerns.

If the WCC expands, U of Seattle and U of Pacific are more in their footprint than DU is, but DU might still be in the mix there. There are other leagues out there (Big Sky, Great West, Summit) that are also possibilities, but none of them offer much more than the Sun Belt does in terms of attractive opponents. North Dakota being in the Great West offers a chance to build on the hockey rivalry into other sports, and Northern Colorado is in the Big Sky, but that's not hugely exciting. We have a very odd sports mix for our location, and unless some bigger football conferences (WAC, MWC) start wanting non-football members, we may be waiting a while.

Aluuum said...

Can't drop the hoops D.G even though it wouldn't bother me. Peg is commited to them.
I was tongue in cheek with those Cal. schools but seriously we are just a miss fit with having a premier private school out here in the western states.If we were back east there would be little problem in finding a conference.
As long as we keep stressing our Hockey and Skiing programs I'm happy.

puck swami said...

Du would love (like many small D-I schools) to be the next Butler or Gonzaga.

If Joe Scott can get DU hoops into the NCAA tournament, it would be a huge achievement for DU, and with the trajectory Scott has injected into the program since arriving here, that may happen may be next year or the year after. And if DU wins a game or two there, the program soon becomes a cash cow - not only NCAA tourney money flowing in, but DU will soon be drawing 4,000 per game, which is the point where hoops starts making money. At least, that's the plan. Such achievement also makes DU more attractive to other conferences.

Anonymous said...

hey dg

the mens basketball team actually won games in their tournament. Let's keep them around.

Trev said...

Can't cut the best D-I College basketball programs in the state!

Taxpayer State and Taxpayer University both have dropped the ball insofar as competitive major sports programs in the last decade while Denver has improved ALL their programs virtually every year.

If the basketball programs keep improving and drawing more fans over the years like they have - the MWC or WAC will become much more interested.

Anonymous said...

Unless the major schools in the MWC leave, DU would never get a invite there. The MWC already has three schools in the Front Range (AFA, CSU, Wyo), there is absolutely no need for a fourth. The WAC will need football schools when Boise St moves on (to the MWC), so even the WAC is questionable.

Just seems as if the Summit League (which doesn't sponsor football) is the most likely.

The league could look like this:

Summit West
UM-Kansas City
North Dakota
South Dakota

Summit East
Oral Roberts
W Illinois
N Kentucky