CU’s Bohn hopes new conference generates excitement

The University of Colorado’s move to the Pacific-10 Conference opens up several possibilities for the Buffaloes.

One of the conference’s best sports is baseball, and CU will be the only school in the conference without an NCAA baseball program.

CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn says he’d like to look into adding the sport, but not in the near future.

“Baseball is a huge hotbed here on the Western Slope,” Bohn said during a recent visit to Grand Junction. “My brother played at Mesa, I played baseball a little bit in college, so I have a passion for baseball. I think as you look at the University of Colorado currently, we sponsor the minimum number of sports, which is 16. That’s a funding-based model.

“The media enhancements that will hit our campus in 18 months will certainly be a shot in the arm, but we believe we need to invest more into our current sports and to help them compete in this league of champions first.”

The Pacific-12 Conference recently agreed to a multimedia rights deal, but it doesn’t go into effect until the 2012-13 school year.

“In the event we can wake up the alumni we’re being exposed to, California has 23,000 alumni alone, Grand Junction has five (thousand)-plus, these are new markets to further enhance the exposure into the Pac-12 and get them more involved,” Bohn said.

“What does that mean? Being a season ticket holder, being an advocate, helping us recruit, being a Buff Club member themselves. As all that grows along with all those media pieces that will help us offset an almost $9 million annual commitment for our scholarships for our student-athletes.

“As we add sports, you’re looking at virtually a $1 million a sport. In the event we add a sport, I can almost promise you it will be a women’s sport first to help us with our commitment to Title IX and our proportionality numbers.”

Not only will CU likely need to add a women’s sport before it could add baseball, the Buffs would need a baseball stadium.

“As far as baseball, we’ve got to find a way to generate the resources to invest in a stadium and make similar improvements and commitments this community has made to Mesa’s program and the junior college national championships,” Bohn said.

The media package will help, but Bohn pointed out the need to sell game tickets, raise money and generate excitement for the current programs.

“That’s why it’s imperative we fire up our key constituents to support us so we can be successful,” Bohn said. “Men’s basketball is our best example. We had five sellouts, the most in any season in over 100 years of the school. That was a huge shot in the arm to help coach and recruiting.  Our fans have become very educated basketball fans and finding a way to be competitive.”

It is possible scholarship dollars would increase before CU approaches adding sports. There’s talk in the NCAA of increasing scholarship levels to pay for a student-athletes’s cost of attendance.

A full-ride scholarship includes money for tuition, fees, room, board and books. The cost-of-attendance scholarship would cover all educational costs, plus living expenses.

“Student-athlete welfare is always first and foremost on our minds,” Bohn said. “There appears to be some momentum to increase the scholarship commitment to the cost of attendance, which roughly equates to anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 additional resources to help student-athletes. That comes with a big expense, but I think there is so momentum to help our student athletes with that.”

Bohn believes NCAA President Mark Emmert will soon address cost-of-attendance scholarships.

“I’m so thrilled Mark Emmert is the new NCAA president. He spent some time at the University of Colorado and was most recently the president at the University of Washington.

“He has an incredible acumen associated with what intercollegiate athletics needs to look like, so having his leadership will be pivotal to make improvements there.”


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