The University of Denver officially accepted an invitation to become the 10th member of the Summit League on Tuesday. The Pioneers will join the Summit League during the 2013-14 academic year after a brief stay in the Western Athletic Conference.
“We’re excited to welcome a well-respected school like Denver to the Summit League, a school with which we already enjoy a rivalry in hockey,” said Trev Alberts, UNO’s athletic director. “Denver brings future credibility to the brand and stature of the Summit League, and its membership further strengthens our institutional desire to align with metropolitan institutions which have missions similar to our own.”
The Pioneers, who compete in 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 women’s volleyball, will be immediately eligible for all Summit League championships during the 2013-14 season.
Denver and UNO currently compete in hockey in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and both will be joining the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference next year.
In the Summit, Denver joins a league that also includes South Dakota, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Missouri-Kansas City, Western Illinois, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis and Oakland. UNO joined the conference last year as it moved up to Division I. Denver fills the void created when Oral Roberts left for the Southland Conference.
“I am pleased to announce the University of Denver as our league’s newest member,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple in a press release. “The university is a tremendous addition with an excellent academic reputation and a history of very successful athletics. Denver is a renowned metropolitan area and easily accessed through one of the world’s leading airports. All of those qualities make the University of Denver an excellent fit for the Summit League.”
Denver, previously a member of the Sun Belt Conference, just joined the Western Athletic Conference, which has since become unstable. The league dropped football and is down to six schools, even after Grand Canyon accepted an invitation to join Tuesday. Grand Canyon, though, is transitioning from Division II, leaving the WAC with only five schools eligible for postseason play. Idaho is also on the way out in the near future.
“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 Peg Bradley-Doppes, Denver’s vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations. “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 postseason play right away, which is the goal for all of our athletic programs.”
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