ELMHURST, Ill. – The University of Denver accepted an invitation to become The Summit League’s newest member institution, the university and league announced Tuesday. Denver will join The Summit League during the 2013-14 academic year.

“I am pleased to announce the University of Denver as our league’s newest member,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “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’s membership will take effect on July 1, 2013. 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.

“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 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 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.”

“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.”

Founded in 1864, the University of Denver has an enrollment of 11,797, including 5,453 undergraduates and 6,344 graduate students. Academically, the Wall Street Journal’s 2007 rankings of top business schools ranked DU’s Daniels College of Business seventh in the nation for producing graduates with high ethical standards. Daniels College of Business is in the top 15 percent of undergraduate programs and the top five percent of graduate programs among the approximately 550 business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). U.S. News & World Report’s annual 2012 college rankings for undergraduate education place Denver 82nd among national doctorial universities.

In athletics, Denver has won four of the last five NCAA Division I-AAA Director’s Cups and finished as high as No. 47 in the Directors Cup among all Division I institutions. Within the past 10 years, the Pioneers have captured five NCAA Championships and 18 individual NCAA Championships. Denver also combined for 32 conference tournament championships, 20 regular season championships and 153 individual championships during that span. The Pioneers produced 30 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and captured 11 Sun Belt Conference Graduate Rate Awards over the past 12 seasons.

Famous alumni of the University of Denver include: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Pete Coors, CEO of Coors Brewing Co.; Brad Anderson, Vice Chairman and CEO of Best Buy, Co., Inc.; Andy Taylor, Chairman and CEO Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and Olympic Silver and Bronze Figure Skating Medalist Michelle Kwan. Notables in professional sports from DU include: current San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich; Jerome Biffle, 1952 Olympic Long Jump Gold Medalist; former NHL players Kevin Dineen, Keith Magnuson and Bill Masterson; former NHL executive and 1980 “Miracle On Ice” assistant coach Craig Patrick; and current NHL standouts Matt Carle (Philadelphia Flyers), Tyler Bozak (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche).

Denver’s metro area ranks as the 21st largest in the United States with a population of 2.87 million. The city of Denver had a population of 619,968 in 2011 and features the 10th largest downtown area. Denver has professional teams in each of the five major sports leagues and its airport is the largest by area in the United States and ranked as the 11th-busiest by passenger traffic in the world in 2011.

Courtesy:  The Summit League