"Just as a university is responsible for providing its student-athletes with solid instruction and guidance both in the classroom and on the field of play, a robust conference values educational excellence as well as athletic achievement," said University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe. "Considering its strong academic focus along with the competitive success of its member institutions' sports programs, we could not be more pleased than to find a permanent home in The Summit League."
"The extensive document review and the recent site visit verified the close alignment of the University of Denver, academically and athletically, with the member universities of The Summit League. DU has very strong undergraduate, graduate and professional programs and very competitive and accomplished intercollegiate athletics programs," said South Dakota State University President Dr. David Chicoine, the chair of The Summit League's President's Council and a member of the site visit team. "The discussions the site visit team had with faculty leadership, the Chancellor, the Provost and athletics department leadership affirmed the value DU brings to the League and the value The Summit League can bring to DU. It is an outstanding opportunity for us and we are pleased to have DU join The Summit League."
Denver plans to participate in 11-of-the-19 championship sports The Summit League currently offers. Denver teams scheduled to compete for conference championships include men's and women's basketball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball. The Pioneers will officially begin league play during the 2013-14 school year.
"The current climate within collegiate athletics has made it imperative that the University find a stable home for the majority of our sport programs," said DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations Peg Bradley-Doppes. "The Summit League is an excellent alliance for our teams, with many institutions within the conference already familiar to residents of the Rocky Mountain region. Our student-athletes will be able to jump in and compete for NCAA post season play right away, which is the goal for all of our athletic programs."
"The University of Denver is a tremendous addition with an excellent academic reputation and a history of very successful athletics," said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. "Denver is a renowned metropolitan area and easily accessed through one of the world's leading airports. All of those qualities make the university an excellent fit for The Summit League."
The locations of The Summit League schools means travel out of Denver International Airport will require few connecting flights, which will significantly reduce the amount of missed class time by DU student-athletes. The direct flight option for many trips also will help to curb the amount of allocated budget needed for travel by all conference members.
The University of Denver becomes the 10th member of The Summit League, joining IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne), University of Missouri-Kansas City (Kansas City), North Dakota State University, Oakland University, University of Nebraska-Omaha (Omaha), University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. The conference, in existence since 1982, changed its name to The Summit League in 2007 from the Mid-Continent Conference.
"The inclusion of the University of Denver into The Summit League continues the commitment to strengthening our membership academically and athletically," said Western Illinois Assistant Vice President for Student Services/Director of Athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine. "Denver has a rich history of competing at a high level and it will certainly bolster the already impressive national profile of The Summit League. I know our coaches and student-athletes will welcome the Pioneers and will look forward to competing with them."
The University's remaining sports - hockey, gymnastics, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's and women's skiing - will continue in their respective conferences.