Part 3: What Should DU Do?


As cost of attendance starts to impact all of Division 1 athletics, DU will have no option but to participate in Cost of Attendance (CoA). The answer is: optimize sports revenue.
  • DU has two options regarding conference affiliation. First, follow the Colorado College model and provide a more focused approach with a limited number of D-1 Programs. Keep a handful of teams in D-1 and eliminate or "drop down" with other sports. Second, join a larger conference to drive attendance, media, and donor revenue. The West Coast Conference is likely the best non-football fit with Pepperdine, Gonzaga, and St. Mary's and access to the large west coast market. Or, develop a non-football affiliate partnership such as the Mountain West Conference which offers logical geographic rivalries (Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, etc.). This would likely require the addition of a second non-football university, similar to DU, by the WCC to provide balanced schedules. Also, initially, DU may have to add new programs, at a cost, to align with the new conference sports slate.
  • Increase the seating capacity for Peter Barton Stadium by fifteen hundred seats and increase ticket prices for all lax seats. The reality is that fans are going to have to pay for program costs and CoA. Assuming $20 per seat for the new seating, concessions and ticket revenue could lead to an additional $200,000+  per season from men's lacrosse. This will take the support of lacrosse donors and friends of DU but will be critical to cover CoA and overall program costs. Strike while the iron is hot.
  • Men's basketball is going to have to become a greater driver of revenue. The reality is that the Summit League does not create a buzz in Denver. There are few natural rivalries for Denver with the closest being University Nebraska Omaha. DU needs to seek a conference that will draw fans, even during DU's lengthy winter school breaks. By joining a conference with nationally visible programs and/or regional powers, DU has greater potential to increased ticket  and media revenue. 
  • DU must grow the University endowment to take pressure off CoA. Reported by U.S. News, at $467 million, DU over time needs to double, triple, or quadruple this amount to take pressure off overall University operations and, specifically, the athletic department. One of Chancellor Chopp's primary goals when coming to DU was to tap new revenue sources to get the best students, regardless of their financial condition.
  • Several of the women's sports have potential upside. Denver is a hot-bed for women's lacrosse, soccer and volleyball. Gymnastics is the perfect model of a program that enjoys huge local support. With targeted recruiting and promotion, could these sports be the next "men's lacrosse" with stands and arenas full. Who could have envisioned the current popularity of men's lacrosse at DU?
Indications are clear that Chancellor Chopp and AD Pegg Doppes understand the issues and actions necessary for DU to successfully navigate CoA in the short-term. However, over the long term, if not controlled by University Presidents and the NCAA,  CoA has the potential to spin out of control. If that happens, there will be little DU or other mid-majors can do to compete with the big-boys.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

$20 for a regular season college lacrosse game is outrageous.

Where can 1,500 permanent seats be added at Barton?

Anonymous said...

Just because more seats are added to a stadium doesn't mean they'll fill them.

dggoddard said...

$20 may be outrageous, but with 2,000 seats and only five home games; the ticket revenue barely covers the head coach's salary.

dggoddard said...

The NCAA doesn't allow schools to drop down to D-2, D-3 or NAIA in select sports. You must have at least 16 D-1 teams.

CC is allowed to have men's hockey & one D-1 women's program because they were "grandfathered" back in the old days under previous rules.

DU wins in certain sports because they spend lots of money on hockey, lacrosse, skiing & gymnastics.

DU doesn't win in hoops because they are massively outspent by the big boys.

dggoddard said...

The NCAA doesn't allow schools to drop down to D-2, D-3 or NAIA in select sports. You must have at least 16 D-1 teams.

CC is allowed to have men's hockey & one D-1 women's program because they were "grandfathered" back in the old days under previous rules.

DU wins in certain sports because they spend lots of money on hockey, lacrosse, skiing & gymnastics.

DU doesn't win in hoops because they are massively outspent by the big boys.

5BWest said...

That leaves DU with three options. One, stay put and either cut costs or find BIG donors (unlikely short-term). Two, drop down to D-2 or D-3 (not going to happen). Three, seek a new primary conference affiliation (time/$). No easy options out there for the athletic department and administration.

Regardless, CoA will come at a direct cost to both the university and its fans.

Anonymous said...

I'm not worried about COA very much. The reality is 90% of DU's scholarship athletes are not coming from poor families, and I doubt an extra $3,000 per year is going to swing most recruits to another school if the scholarship offers are otherwise comparable.

The only area where this might be a concern is in basketball, where economic disparities are more of an issue, but even then, most of DU's two-star recruits are still coming from places where an extra $3k is not a swing factor.

The more important issue is conference upgrading, and DU needs stronger hoops to make other conferences interested.

5BWest said...

CoA payments go to the players 'tax-free'. In DU's case, $3,000 would provide $100 each week assuming 10-week quarters for a full-scholarship athlete. For any college student, that is substantial. Plus, as competitors provide CoA, these payments could easily become the tie-breaker when students are making a university choice.

Anonymous said...

If people balk at paying $20 for a single-game lacrosse ticket and those new, extra seats at Barton don't get filled, then what?

awready said...

"dggoddard said...
$20 may be outrageous, but with 2,000 seats and only five home games; the ticket revenue barely covers the head coach's salary."

Out of a 13-game schedule for 2016 five games are at home. So look to play more home games.
There are two neutral site games. If Penn State's willing to travel to Dallas to play, wouldn't they be willing to go to Denver? Two years in-a-row playing Duke in Georgia. Why not home-and-home?

Charles Dorison said...


1. To keep DU relevant on the National Stage, we must continue to win big in Ice Hockey and Men's Lacrosse. For most of us alums, our sports programs are our only connection to the University since we are spread out across the USA. Chancellor Chopp is well aware of that.
2. Perhaps we do need to adhere to stipend guidelines where every full scholarship athlete gets say $3,000 per year. I would think we have only 100-150 kids on full rides. That's $300,000-$450,000 per year in CoA payments. Not chump change. However maybe the # is less, since many scholarships are only partials. (not sure if they need to be pro-rated)
3. Paying Joe Scott so much money was not money wisely spent, perhaps Peg's only mistake. (as far as I'm' concerned, Peg is the best AD in college sports) Most coaches from small division 1 conferences make far less them $400,000 per year.
4. or 3A. The Summit League was a tough spot to land. We can be thankful they accepted us. There are no viable alternatives short term, so let's be happy to have league affiliation. Right now, we dominate the Summit in all the non-revenue sports. If that continues, great. If not, so be it. I mostly care that we stay a power in LAX and ICE HOCKEY.
5. My friends kid me about our multi league affiliations as a auxiliary member. NCHC in Hockey, Big East Lacrosse, Big 12 Women's Gymnastics, Skiing in some cockamamie league like the RMSA. The Summit for the rest. Peg did some job working this out in spite of the fact probably 50-100 teams switched leagues in the past 2 years. Being a small private university located at the foothills to the Rockies makes our options limited.

The next few years will be interesting. No easy answers. The status quo is fine and dandy, but who knows if that will change.

DAMN IT'S GREAT HAVING THIS BLOG BACK




Anonymous said...

Charles Dorison , how can you say the AD is the best in college sports? Provide some support for this statement.

Scott took hoops to the NIT and got a raise and extension. What has his team done since then. No conference titles. 16-15 and 12-18. 14-16 in two Summit League seasons. This is a glaring error for the AD. Players transferring. Poor attendance at games. Men's hoops is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

AD did hire Bill Tierney as the lacrosse coach. That's the most notable accomplishment. What else?

dggoddard said...

Tierney hiring was huge, but there's way more to her record than that.

DU overachieves in almost every sport except M & W's Hoops.

Compare DU's results in all sports to CU, Air Force & CSU. Schools with more students, more alumni, more money and better conferences.

Anonymous said...


Damien hit it on the head. You judge ADs primarily on winning programs, graduation rates/GPAs, and scandal-free operations. In all three areas, she's been stellar. DU is an NCAA tournament caliber program in all sports they play except mens and women's basketball, and even there, DU was men's league champ as recently as 2012. No other D-I non-football school comes close to DU's level of achievement, and when you consider DU's location, sports mix, multiple leagues and sports budget, DU gets incredible value for the money they spend. Add in the high graduation rate, the high department GPA and the lack of arrests on our athletes and it's pretty much a model athletic program that doesn't get the level of appreciation for its high level of performance it puts out, year in and year out.

Is it perfect? No. Basketball is still a big project for a school like DU to get consistency where there is little tradition and 360+ schools playing to make the dance, unlike hockey (60 schools) and lacrosse (70 schools).

Pio97 said...

Our conference situation is pretty damn good considering the circumstances surrounding basketball. We have Hockey, Lax, Gym, and Ski in appropriate, respectable conferences, while the Summit offers the opportunity for nearly every one of DU's teams to win the conference and continue on to postseason play. Basketball NEEDS to get over the psychological hump and win in this league before it can expect any reasonable attempt at success in another. For the time being, working our way up to becoming a perennially dominant player in the Summit will greatly help our chances of moving on to the WCC or elsewhere down the road.

I'll take a MWC or WCC affiliation any day, but the Summit can still act as an effective stepping stone short-term.


Some other random thoughts:
What is the status of Joe Scott's contract?

If we don't make the dance this year, or at least the NIT, then I can see him getting the axe. The program could use a change.

The next few years are critical for DU Lacrosse in order to cement itself as a long-term powerhouse after Tierney retires.

I approve of Coach Monty, can't wait for the season.

Anonymous said...

Scott makes somewhere between $400-500,000 a year, so firing him well before his contract expires in 2018 is a big wad of cash for DU to eat. I could see DU coughing up $500K to fire him a year early, but I can't see them eating a million, then having to pay the new guy on top of that.

Scott's pay is not out of line in D-I basketball, where the top 25 programs all have men's hoops budgets of $8-16 million. DU's Hoops budget is about $2.6 million second most in the Summit League, slightly behind Oral Roberts- and only about 1/3 of CU's $6M budget and well less than CSU's $4.2 million budget, for local comparison.

gunners said...

If Scott's pay is not out of line in D-1 basketball, what happens to those other coaches when they don't win, have players transfer, don't get people to attend home games, etc. Don't compare Scott's salary to other coaches but ignore what happens when his team and program is a mess. How many transfers over the last 3-4 years; a rising senior leaves after his junior year (I've heard Scott pulled his scholarship money).

Anonymous said...

This will be an interesting year. Joe has a very young team, and has replaced all his transfers with freshmen. He won't recruit Juco players, since his system is too complex and time is too short.

There is a lot of money left on his contract, and for a school like DU, that's money that's very hard to just throw away.

I think DU gives him two more years, since this team is so young.

There isn't much pressure to replace him coming from outside DU, but since his assistants were fired last spring, you know time is ticking...