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Mike Moran, who served as sports information director at the University of Colorado for 11 years and went on to a prestigious career as the chief communications officer and the principal spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee, passed away from a short illness Tuesday afternoon in Colorado Springs. He was 78.

His professional career in athletics would span some 55 years, highlighted by being the chief spokesman for the USOC for a quarter century (1978-2003) and the Olympic games starting in Lake Placid in 1980 through Salt Lake City in 2002. He previously had served as the SID at Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado, and for the last 17 years, was involved in major consultant work, including as the senior media consultant for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation as well as serving as a keynote speaker and emcee for numerous sports events.

He was born January 2, 1942 in Omaha, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 1966. He worked in television and radio in his hometown from 1963-67, with his background including stints as a TV sportscaster, radio announcer and disc jockey and photography. He played college basketball and baseball at both South Dakota University and Omaha as an undergraduate following his graduation from Omaha’s Westside High School in 1960, where one of his teammates was actor Nick Nolte. After graduating from UNO, he became the school’s sports information director for two years before accepting the similar position at Colorado, where he replaced a legend in the late Fred Casotti who had held the position for 16 years.

He took over as CU’s SID in August 1968, just ahead of the football season. The ’68-69 men’s basketball team, led by the late Cliff Meely, won the Big Eight title and provided his first extended opportunity to work with the national media. Then the ’69 football team gained national notoriety for defeating Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide in the Liberty Bowl, with Bobby Anderson earning All-America honors under Moran’s promotional abilities. In 1971, the Buffaloes opened with road wins at LSU and Ohio State in the first three weeks of the season en route to a 10-2 year and a final No. 3 national ranking behind Nebraska and Oklahoma, to this day the only time the same conference has had the top three teams in the final polls.

In 1973, he managed the transition of Eddie Crowder from football coach to athletic director, enjoyed official scoring for Irv Brown’s baseball teams, and saw the likes of Cliff Branch and George Daniels set the track world on fire. And prior to leaving for the USOC, his final challenge was managing the news that broke on Monday Night Football by Howard Cosell: the University of Colorado was hiring Chuck Fairbanks away from the New England Patriots to coach the Buffaloes.

In 2002, the USOC honored him with its highest award, the General Douglas MacArthur Award, as he joined a select group of recipients that included Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, former USOC President and Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon, New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, former USOC President William Martin, and 1936 Olympic sprinter Marty Glickman.

That same year, he was inducted into the College Sports Information Director’s (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, for a combination of his work in the SID and media relations field along with the opportunities he afforded dozens of SID’s around the nation to work both Summer and Winter Olympic games. He was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and also received the 2006 Distinguished Service Award from the United States Sports Academy.

He had moments that captured the entire world at the USOC, topped by the U.S. Hockey team’s win over the Russians and subsequent gold medal in 1980. He also had to deal with media circuses around the U.S. pulling out of the ’80 Moscow Olympic games and the “brouhaha” between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in 1994.

Services and a celebration of Mike’s life are pending.

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