Many of you probably received this email blast from AD Rick George but I wanted to post it for those of you that didn't.
Happy holidays! This is the first of what will be several communications to you throughout the year.
I am well into my fourth month as athletic director, and I would have done this a bit earlier but have been feverously working on fundraising for our facilities project and our strategic plan for the future. I wanted to hold off so that my first correspondence could include an update on both.
First, most are familiar with our on-the-field and court accomplishments this fall. All in all, we have enjoyed some tremendous success, and the combined record of our teams against Division I competition as of this writing is a stellar 342-88-7, or a 79.0 winning percentage, and we are currently ranked first in the Division I Learfield Sports Director's Cup Standings. Academically, over three dozen of our student-athletes were recognized with some level of Academic All-Pac 12 Team mention.
The crown jewel this fall came on November 23, when the men's cross country team won its fourth NCAA championship, CU's 26th overall in all sports; that came on the heels of them winning their third straight Pac-12 title. The women also had a stellar performance at nationals, finishing seventh, with senior Shalaya Kipp becoming CU's first four-time, first-team All-American in cross country. Our terrific head coach, Mark Wetmore, was named the national coach of the year.
(It was also the 460th won by a Pac-12 school, twice as many as any other conference in the nation; this is now the environment we are competing in across the board. Since joining the conference in 2011, we've contributed two to the league's long-standing total, and they absorbed the ones we had won previously in the overall count.)
Football finished the year with a 4-8 record; we flirted with bowl eligibility until the 11th week of the season, an improvement over previous seasons, and we know we're nowhere near where we want to be: back among the nation's elite. But there was progress made; the players fought hard and there was no quitting. This was one of the smoother transitions you'll ever see when a program changes head coaches and thus its direction; there was no mass exodus as the student-athletes bought into Mike MacIntyre and his staff's philosophical changes. I believe our future is bright.
The women's soccer team reached the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament before falling to No. 3 Florida State; it marked the second time in our history we advanced with two wins, joining the 2006 team. Coach Danny Sanchez' second Buffalo team finished the year with a 14-7-2 record.
The women's volleyball team finished the season with an 18-14 record, including a 9-11 mark in Pac-12 play which tied the Buffs for seventh. But the Pac-12 is the nation's premier volleyball conference: nine teams advanced to the NCAA tournament, CU among them for the first time since 2006. The Buffs dispatched Iowa State in four games in our first match before succumbing in five games the second round to host and No. 10 seed Minnesota. All in all, a fine season for Liz Kritza's Buffaloes.
The men's and women's golf teams both enjoyed some individual successes in their fall seasons; men's golf, playing with as many as three true freshmen in some meets, posted three top three finishes, including a win in its own Mark Simpson-CU Invitational. The women played a very tough fall schedule with a top finish of second. And women's tennis, which plays solely an individual schedule in the fall, had several players with top tournament performances.
The basketball teams are off to solid starts: Tad Boyle's men are currently 9-1 and with the big win over Kansas, entered the national rankings at No. 21; Linda Lappe's women are off to a third straight 9-0 start and are the nation's No. 11 ranked program at present, the Buffs' highest ranking since February 2004. Both were voted to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, and ESPN has CU under consideration to host its basketball version of "Game Day" when Arizona visits next February 22.
In addition, look for our dean of head coaches, Richard Rokos (in his 24th season), to lead the defense of our ski team's national title it won last March with the largest final day comeback in NCAA history.
And finally, the women's lacrosse team, announced two years ago as CU's 17th intercollegiate sport, will make its debut this coming February. Coach Ann Elliott's team will open with three games on the road before it makes its home debut on February 22 against Regis; it will take place in Folsom Field and Ralphie will lead the team out for its first-ever game in Boulder (we will know what time once ESPN decides if it is headed here that day for Game Day).
I am also proud to relay that the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2014 class, and it included two Buffaloes: Darian Hagan, who quarterbacked the CU to three Big Eight Conference titles and the 1990 national championship (and who is currently on our football administrative staff), and the late Forrest B. "Frosty" Cox, CU's men's basketball coach (1936-50) who coached the first three All-Americans in school history and helped CU become the dominant program west of the Mississippi prior to World War II. In addition, Coach Bill McCartney was inducted into the National Football Foundation "Hall of Fame" this past Tuesday in New York.
Our Sustainable Excellence Initiative (SEI), which includes a $143 million wide-ranging facilities improvement plan, was approved unanimously by the Board of Regents on December 4. This is the vital component to our strategic plan, one that reaches out past the year 2025, which will be finalized by the end of January. We have determined what our vision and mission are:
"To be nationally recognized as a premier athletics department, by providing a world-class and holistic student-athlete experience, operating in a fiscally responsible manner, while consistently competing for and winning championships."
The comprehensive student-athlete experience includes enhancing our academic, health and wellness, and personal development programs, in concert with raising the level of competitive excellent for all teams to compete for and win championships on the conference and national levels. Developing and renovating facilities is the key factor in achieving the above objectives.
We are working diligently to make this a reality, not a pipe dream. We intend to start construction this Spring with a completion date in time for the start of the 2015-16 academic and athletic year; yes, an aggressive remake of our athletic department in what basically is a 16-month window.
This is a very critical juncture for Colorado Athletics. We are at a point in time where we need to collaborate and unify with all of our stakeholders to insure a sustainable and successful future.
We appreciate all you do to bolster our efforts and I would like to ask for your continued support as we forge a future that will lead the Buffaloes to our best days we desire and will work hard to achieve. If you are interested at this time in supporting our SEI, there is more information at www.cubuffclub.com, or call the Buff Club office at 303-492-2200.