How CU athletics has fared in Pac-12: A program-by-program analysis

As CU athletics embarks upon its 10th season in the Pac-12, the football program is still trying to find its footing among its West Coast peers. That hasn’t been the case, however, for all of the Buffs programs. Here’s a look at how each has fared since joining the conference in the 2011-12 collegiate sports year:

Men’s basketball

Record: 186-120 (84-78 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0 (1 tournament title, 2012)
NCAA Tournament bids: 4 (2012, ’13, ’14, ’16 )
Trending – up: While a long sought-after trip to the Sweet 16 still awaits, there is no questioning the stability Tad Boyle has brought to CU. If not for COVID-19, the Buffs would have had five NCAA tournament trips since moving to the Pac-12 and six 20-plus win seasons. In the 42 years prior to that, CU had only four 20-plus win seasons and two tickets to the Big Dance.

Men’s cross country

Conference titles: 7 (2011, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’19)
NCAA meet team bids: 9 (2011-19)
Trending – level: The move west has not stopped the momentum of one of CU’s most successful programs, as the Buffs won back-to-back national championships in 2013-14 after claiming three NCAA titles the decade before (2001, ’04, ’06).


Record: 39-73 (20-61 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0
Bowl bids: 1 (2016 Alamo Bowl)
Trending – down: Things were far from rosy for CU heading into the Pac-12 after the Dan Hawkins era (19-39) torpedoed a long run of success. Even Hawkins’ dreadful five-year tenure saw the same number of bowl bids (1) as the Buffs have had in 9 seasons in the Pac-12.


Conference titles: 0
NCAA tournament team bids: 2 for women (2012, ’18), 0 for men
Trending – down: The Buffs women have been consistently competitive since 2011, reaching regionals seven times in eight years. The men haven’t had a team make it to the NCAA tournament since 2002.

Track and field

Conference titles: 0
Individual NCAA meet bids (outdoor): 23 for men, 23 for women
Trending – level: The Buffs’ reputation as a premier distance running program is a constant no matter the conference. All but six of the program’s NCAA bids since 2012 came in distance events.

Women’s basketball

Record: 147-140 (50-112 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0
NCAA Tournament bids: 1 (2013)
Trending – down: Playing in perhaps the deepest women’s basketball conference in the country has been an uphill battle for the Buffs, who have finished no better than fourth in the Pac-12. The program’s struggles preceded the move, however, with CU reaching the NCAA tourney just once since Ceal Barry retired as coach in 2005.

Women’s cross country

Conference titles: 4 (2011, ’15, ’16, ’17)
NCAA meet team bids: 9 (2011-19)
Trending – up: The Buffs have finished in the top three nationally four of the past five years, including a national championship in 2018 that also saw Dani Jones claim an individual crown.

Women’s soccer

Record: 99-69-22 (35-49-15 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0
NCAA Tournament bids: 5 (2013, ’14, ’16, ’17, ’19)
Trending – up: With five NCAA tournament trips in the past seven years, the next hurdle for the Buffs is to consistently compete in the upper third of the conference. Their best finish so far? Second in 2016.

Women’s tennis

Record: 76-113 (11-70 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0
NCAA meet team bids: 0
Trending – down: Placed into a much stronger tennis conference — a Pac-12 program has played for the NCAA title each of the past 21 years, winning 13 — the Buffs have struggled. They have finished no better than eighth in the conference standings in eight seasons (2019-20 was canceled midway through due to COVID-19).


Record: 146-140 (67-115 in Pac)
Conference titles: 0
NCAA Tournament bids: 4 (2013, ’14, ’17, ’18)
Trending – level: After winning just one conference match in their first season in the Pac-12, the Buffs have slowly become competitive. While they haven’t quite reached the consistency of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Buffs did notch the program’s fourth Sweet 16 trip in 2017.

Note: Women’s lacrosse and skiing not included. Lacrosse recently became a Pac-12 sport, while skiing competes in its own conference.

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