Inside look: The current state of DU athletics

Members of the Duquesne Dukes football team line up for a practice drill Tuesday on Rooney Field. The Dukes begin their 2015 campaign Sept. 5 when they take on Kentucky Christian University at home.

Members of the Duquesne Dukes football team line up for a practice drill Tuesday on Rooney Field. The Dukes begin their 2015 campaign Sept. 5 when they take on Kentucky Christian University at home.

By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor

There’s no doubt sports have a strong presence on Duquesne’s campus. The university is home to six men’s and nine women’s Division I NCAA-affiliate organizations as well as many intramural clubs. With the overwhelming presences of athletics on campus, it’s important for students and faculty alike to stay in the loop with what’s going on in the world of the Red & Blue. Of course, for those new to the Bluff, that can be tough. Don’t worry, because those here at The Duke want to give you a quick refresher on some of the past year’s most important headlines.

Women’s Cross-Country

The women’s cross-country team took home the title of 2014 Atlantic-10 champions for the second year in a row last fall. Head coach Caitlin Cotter was named A-10 Coach of the Year after her team achieved the coveted prize. To finish the season, the women’s team placed seventh out of 29 at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Championship. The quest for their third A-10 title in three years begins Sept. 5 at the annual Duquesne Duals in Schenley Park.

Men’s Basketball

On March 11, the men’s hoops team beat the St. Louis Billikens 61-55 in the first round of the A-10 Championship tournament, which was just the third time the Dukes made it out of the first round since 1995. Despite losing in the second round of the tournament, head coach Jim Ferry was granted a contract extension in late June. Heading into his fourth season as the Dukes’ head coach, Ferry led the men to an overall record of 13-17 last year. The team will open up their season later this year when they face Seton Hall on Nov. 13.

Women’s Basketball

Despite finishing the regular season with an impressive 23-11 overall record, the women’s basketball team was once again snubbed from the NCAA tournament. Instead, they competed in the WNIT, where they fought their way to the third round.

Heading into the 2015-16 season, the women’s team will have a new director of basketball operations in Melissa Franko. A Duquesne alum, Franko will be tasked with setting up volunteer and team building activities, social media marketing, promotional initiatives and much more.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to build my relationships with the student-athletes and fans of our women’s basketball program,” Franko said in an August press release. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of one of the most successful Division I teams of the last decade.”

Led by third-year head coach Dan Burt, the Dukes will open up their season sometime in November. The full regular season schedule has yet to be released, however, the team has recieved its nonconference schedule. Opponents include Princeton, Maryland and Howard.

Athletic director search

Of all the stories that caught the school’s eye this past year, none were more surprising than the June 10 announcement that Greg Amodio would be vacating his position as athletic director. Amodio was at the helm of Duquesne athletics for nearly 10 years after being hired back in 2005. Thanks to Amodio, Duquesne earned the rights to host rounds of the 2012, 2015 and 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. He also paved the way for the construction of multiple athletic buildings.

“I am extremely proud of the numerous accomplishments we have realized during my time at Duquesne University,” Amodio said in a June press release.

Amodio will become the new director of athletics at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. University President Charles Dougherty named Philip Racicot the interim director of athletics while the national search for Amodio’s replacement continues.

Football

After a mediocre 6-6 showing last season, the Duquesne football team will open its season at home against Kentucky Christian University Sept. 5. The team received a confidence boost after being picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference Football League Fans will be able to catch the Dukes on national television twice this season when they face off against Bryant University Oct. 17 and Saint Francis Nov. 21 on ESPN 3.

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