Karlton Creech Introduced as Head of Athletics and Recreation
Creech aims to build on the athletic and academic success at DU
When you take over a program that has 32 national championships to its credit, that is recognized year after year as the most successful Division I program without football and that graduates 93 percent of its student-athletes, you have big shoes to fill. It’s a challenge Karlton Creech is excited to take on.
“When I first learned of the opening here at Denver, I said, ‘I want that job,’” Creech said Monday morning as he was introduced as the new vice chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations. “The University of Denver has everything you would want; a tremendous academic reputation along with a national championship-winning athletics program.”
It’s that rare combination that appealed to Creech. The University of Denver has captured a dozen national championships in the last 20 years, but perhaps more important, it has had three times as many CoSIDA Academic All-America selections.
“We are here to provide an education, and we will never forget that,” Creech said. “Education is No. 1, and student-athletes here at the University of Denver understand that. When they leave here, they have a world-class education.”
Creech comes to DU from the University of Maine, where he served as director of athletics. He restructured the program’s fundraising model, an effort that resulted in multiple endowments of over $1 million. Through his leadership, student-athlete GPA increased year-over-year.
Prior to UMaine, Creech spent a decade at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He coordinated an $88 million expansion of the football stadium and ultimately served as senior associate director of athletics.
Creech has deep ties to UNC and Chapel Hill. Along with being born and raised there, his wife, Staci, was a student-athlete for four years on the golf team. He says he learned a long time ago to accept the fact that he may not be the best athlete in the family, especially when playing against a scratch golfer.
“It’s humbling, and I learned that lesson many years ago,” he says. “Staci is a great golfer and a Division I student-athlete herself. It’s really how we spend time together, and she enjoys beating me just as much as anyone else.”
Creech begins his new role on May 1, replacing Peg Bradley-Doppes, who is retiring after 13 years. He's also looking forward to working with Ron Grahame who has served as day-to-day athletic director since August.
“What Peg and Ron have done here over the years is very impressive,” Creech says. “My first job is to continue that success, and over time we are going to have to create new challenges, because we can’t be complacent and we have to keep moving forward.”
Creech says that building on DU’s athletics legacy starts with the people who make up the program — the players, coaches and staff. From day one, he plans to listen and learn the culture at DU. He says his message to everyone will be simple.
“I am here to help you achieve your goals. If I can do that, we will all be successful,” he says. “Winning is fun. Winning the right way is even more fun. Many of our programs are achieving excellence, and our goal is that all of our programs have that opportunity, and I look forward to working with our coaches and student-athletes to get us there.”