Another living legend will soon depart the Colorado athletics department.
On Friday, CU announced that longtime ski coach Richard Rokos, who took over the program in 1990, will retire following the 2020-21 season. With the 30th anniversary of his hiring (July 3, 1990), having recently passed, next season will be Rokos’ 31st season leading a Buffaloes program that has collected eight team national championships and 43 individual titles under his watch.
Rokos’ announcement arrives just two months after the retirement of deputy athletic director and former women’s basketball coach Ceal Barry, who spent 37 years at CU. In a release, CU athletic director Rick George said former CU athletic director and Olympic skier Bill Marolt and former CU skier Bruce Gamble, both CU athletics Hall of Famers, will lead the search committee to find Rokos’ replacement.
“It’s hard to say when is the right time, but I thought it would be unnoticed right now because everything is so crazy and turbulent out there,” said Rokos, who turned 70 on May 25. “But I am glad that I can keep doing this for one more season, to be around the team one more time, and I can help in any way I am asked to with the transition to a new head coach.”
Rokos’ squads have qualified for the NCAA championships in all 30 of his seasons at CU, a total that ranks second in school history behind cross country coach Mark Wetmore, whose men’s and women’s teams have combined for 48 NCAA championship appearances.
Rokos led CU to national championships in 1991 (his first season), 1995, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2011, 2013, and 2015. The Buffs finished second at the championships in eight other seasons under Rokos. In 181 meets with Rokos as CU’s head coach, the Buffs finished outside the top four just four times.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Rokos defected to the United States in 1981, moving to Colorado a year later. Rokos will leave CU as the third longest-tenured coach in any sport in school history, trailing only former track and cross country coach Frank Potts (41 years) and former gymnastics coach Charles Vavra (32 years).
“Every single day of doing this,” Rokos said. “I do not regret for one minute what I have been doing. It was an exceptional privilege to have had this opportunity. I was fortunate that it came along for me, and because of it I’ve met the most amazing people in my life. I love my kids dearly. I’m not on Facebook, but I have a couple of hundred phone numbers and we call each other, we visit each other. Once a year, we take a trip around the country and visit some here and there, and when I am in Europe recruiting, I do the same. These have been long-lasting relationships, and we really are a family. This is what has made this job so exceptionally unique.”