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Interview: Athletics Vice Chancellor Peg Bradley-Doppes on athletic success

Peg Bradley-Doppes

Peg Bradley-Doppes says athletics is very much a part of the academic mission at DU. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Q: What does it mean to the University to have such a successful athletics program?

A: I would be the first one to say that athletics is not the most important thing about a university at any level. However, it’s the most visible. I would look at the national exposure from this past year’s success in a very positive light. We have 17 programs, and 12 of those programs went to the NCAA tournaments. We have eight coaches of the year, six conference championships. We have been able to demonstrate leadership at the conference level, at the regional level and, certainly, at the NCAA level. I think as ambassadors for the University, as educators and leaders, we have a responsibility to show the rest of the world that the University of Denver is a very special place.

We hope to be able to prove over the years to come that this was not just a “flash in the pan”—that we have the right values, the right work ethic, talented staff, outstanding student-athletes who have a shared vision of having greatness here at DU. This is an incredible university with top-notch faculty and incredible alumni who aspire to be the very best they can be.

Q: What factors have contributed to DU’s athletic success?

A: We have implemented a pretty significant strategic plan that started three years ago. We have worked at fully funding all 17 of our programs. The philosophy of that was if we can fund our programs to the NCAA limit—that is where all of our competition is—we would become more successful and therefore, more visible and have the ability to raise more money. We’ve been able to do that.

We also embraced a “One DU” approach. All of our programs are valuable; athletics is very much a part of the academic mission here. Our student-athletes graduate faster than non-student-athletes. We are very proud of the fact that we are part of the DU community. We’ve made a very conscientious effort to connect with our alumni, our faculty and staff, and most importantly our students as we build this.

We are blessed with a beautiful campus, great faculty, incredible alumni. This is a place where we have been able to attract some of the best young coaches, retain the best seasoned coaches and have created an esprit de corps that there is a sense of energy and commitment. There is a universal feeling of, “It’s great to be a Pioneer.”

Q: What do you expect the coming year to bring in terms of athletics?

A: I envision the same type of success and even greater. I think there is such a momentum here—such an incredible sense of energy and passion—that there was no sense or feeling of, “Oh, we’ve reached it.” It was, “This is incredible.” And if this is incredible, can you imagine how truly great we can be when we have everything hitting on all cylinders? I think we are just getting started. We are a work in progress. We are much harsher on ourselves than anyone else has to be so that, for us, it’s wonderful to see the hard work of the coaches and of the staff and the student-athletes be realized.

We strive to become the No. 1 basketball program in the Rocky Mountain region, to maintain our national success in hockey and to overall have an extremely successful broad-based program. But as we go forward, we continue not to worry about the outcome. We worry about the process—recruiting and retaining the top talented students and staff, making sure we are doing things the right way, making sure we graduate our student-athletes. It is important to remember that this is the seventh consecutive year that we’ve won the Sun Belt academics trophy. Many of our programs are ranked nationally in their team GPAs, so they are national All-American teams. We’re doing it the right way, not just winning, but winning and graduating very bright young men and women.

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