New Colorado volleyball coach Jesse Mahoney led the University of Denver to a 88-41 record.
Courtesty photo / University of Denver
New Colorado volleyball coach Jesse Mahoney led the University of Denver to a 88-41 record.

New CU volleyball coach

Who: Jesse Mahoney.

Hometown: Boulder.

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CU in 1995 and a juris doctorate degree from CU’s law school in 1999.

Family: Wife, Gwen, and three children: Macy, Griffin and Declan.

Coaching career:

Denver, 2012-15 (head coach; 88-41 record).

Colorado State, 2005-11 (assistant coach/associate head coach).

Fort Hays State, 1999-2004 (head coach; 107-82 record).

Colorado Christian, 1998 (sssistant coach)

Notable: As a student at CU, Mahoney was the setter on the Buffs’ men’s club volleyball team. … After graduation, he coached the CU men’s club team from 1995-98, ranking in the top 20 nationally. … He graduated from Boulder High School in 1989.

Jesse Mahoney’s children were not thrilled with their dad’s decision to change jobs.

Mahoney is ecstatic, though.

On Thursday, CU announced it has hired Mahoney from the University of Denver to take over the Buffaloes’ volleyball program. The announcement comes exactly two weeks after Liz Kritza was fired following seven seasons at CU.

“My kids were crying earlier. They don’t want to leave their schools,” Mahoney said.

For Mahoney, however, the opportunity to take over a quality Pac-12 volleyball program in his hometown and at a school where he earned two degrees was too good pass up.

“Having grown up in Boulder and my wife and I both attending CU-Boulder, we both consider Boulder home,” said Mahoney, who graduated from Boulder High in 1989 and from CU in 1995. “It’s pretty special to get to come back home, to get the opportunity to coach a premier program in a premier conference in one of the best places to live in the world.”

The fifth head coach in CU’s 30-year history, Mahoney will get a three-year contract, one of just six multiyear contracts allowed by Colorado state law. The law limits the numbers of multiyear employment contracts each school can offer. At CU, all of those are now being used in the athletic department.

Mahoney returns to Colorado, where he played on the men’s club team two decades ago, after compiling an 88-41 record in four seasons at Denver.

Taking over a program that had posted three consecutive losing seasons before his arrival, Mahoney had a winning record every year at DU. During the past two seasons, he went 54-15, won two Summit League titles and took the Pioneers to the NCAA tournament twice – the only two NCAA appearances in DU’s 32 seasons of volleyball.

The Pioneers went 27-8 this past season, losing at Washington in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“The people here (at DU) are fantastic, the administration was fantastic,” he said. “I’m very blessed to have had this opportunity. I take a lot of pride, not just in myself and the staff, but the players for creating a really special program here in a short amount of time.”

Earlier this week, CU senior associate athletic director Ceal Barry said the Buffs were seeking a coach who has won championships at the Division I level, but also a coach with high character.

“A lot of people can coach volleyball, a lot of people are good recruiters,” she said. “The leadership piece, I think, is the most important piece for this program right now.”

Barry said there was no shortage of quality candidates for the position. In the end, Barry and the Buffs felt Mahoney was at the top of that list.

“I can honestly say he’s an awesome guy, straightforward,” said senior-to-be Katelyn Cuff, one of four players on the search committee. “When we were interviewing him, it was all about direct volleyball.”

Before going to DU in 2012, Mahoney was an assistant at Colorado State from 2005-2011, helping the Rams to seven consecutive 20-win seasons and seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. From 1999-2004, Mahoney was the head coach at Fort Hays State, going 107-82 overall and 56-12 in his final two seasons with the Lady Tigers.

“It’s exciting to see what he potentially can do with our team and the talent level we have,” Cuff said. “It starts, first off, with us and then from there, we expect a lot out of him and I think he can bring it.”

Kritza was dismissed despite guiding CU to a resurgence in volleyball. She was 90-125 in her seven seasons, but 57-41 in the last three years. Kritza took CU to the NCAA tournament in 2013 and 2014 – reaching the second round both times. This past season, CU (19-13, 11-9 Pac-12) became the first team since 1993 to post a winning record in Pac-10/12 play and not get invited to the NCAA tournament.

Mahoney said he is eager to start the process of getting the Buffs back to the national stage.

“There’s a lot of talent on the roster right now,” Mahoney said. “I think there’s potential to get better and I think there’s potential to move the program forward to where it needs to go.”

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or