For a beat reporter on a tight travel budget, a trip to Lawrence, Kan., in November of 2010 wasn’t a given.
Colorado associate athletic director and sports information director David Plati had plans to make the journey in his SUV and offered the reporter the chance to tag along.
The trek was classic Plati: going out of his way to get extra coverage for his beloved Buffaloes, blasting classic rock throughout the plains of Eastern Colorado and Kansas, and crooning along with the radio for every lyric. Literally, every lyric.
It would be the last trip to Kansas for the Buffs, who left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 the next summer. It would be the last trip anywhere as a Buff for head coach Dan Hawkins, who was fired the day after the come-from-ahead 52-45 defeat.
Yet, for Plati, it was one of many trips in a long and remarkable career that has made him a legend in his business and all-time great Buff.
On Friday night, when the Buffs host TCU in the season opener at Folsom Field, Plati, 62, will work his 500th CU game. It will also mark the start of a transition into retirement.
CU athletic director Rick George announced Friday that this will be Plati’s last season as a full-time employee of the university, as he will take semi-retirement in January.
“David has been an icon at CU and in this industry for over 40 years,” George said. “He is nationally recognized, was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame and given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the football writers.”
On Jan. 9, Plati will reach 40 years of full-time employment CU. At that point, he will begin serving as SID-Emeritus and the program historian — a role he has basically filled for 21 years.
Curtis Snyder, who has worked at CU for 23 years and most recently as assistant AD, has been named the interim SID.
The late Frank Potts is the only full-time employee in CU athletic department history with a longer tenure than Plati. Potts coached cross country and track for 41 years (1927-68).
“The time is right,” Plati said. “I’ve been doing this my entire adult life. All I’ve known in my adult life is sports.”
In semi-retirement, Plati can work 110 days a year and he’s hoping the break will allow him to focus more on his health, along with seeing family and traveling more.
“I’ve got health concerns,” he said. “I’ve got five nieces and nephews I don’t know that well and I love traveling around the United States.
“I haven’t had eight hours of straight sleep in probably 25 years. I sleep in pockets and I don’t know what it’s like to wake up fully refreshed. If I can fix sleep, I think that’ll fix some other health issues.”
A native of New Rochelle, N.Y., and a graduate of Woodlands (N.Y.) High School, Plati and his family visited the CU campus when he was 12 years old.
“I fell in love with the campus,” he said.
In high school, he lettered in football and golf. He also did a senior project where he filled the role of the school’s SID.
He tried to turn that into a college scholarship and contacted five schools: CU, Colorado State, Denver, Dayton and Michigan State. Ironically, CU was the only one of the five that didn’t offer him scholarship money, but he came to Boulder anyway. Upon his arrival, then-SID Mike Moran offered him a job in the office.
Plati has been a true Buff ever since. With the exception of four months as the publicity director for the Denver Bears baseball team during his senior year, he’s been in CU athletics since August of 1978.
After graduating from CU in December of 1982, Plati was named the assistant SID. He was named as the 13th full-time SID in CU history on July 24, 1984 — the last hire made by then-athletic director and Buffs legend Eddie Crowder.
Moran and former CU SIDs Tim Simmons and Fred Casotti are among Plati’s mentors, along with former longtime Denver Broncos vice president of communications Jim Saccomano and the late Irv Brown, a former CU coach and radio personality.
Throughout his career, Plati took advice from all of them. In particular, he has been known for unique statistics and facts and credits Casotti for that.
“Casotti taught me to have fun with your notes,” Plati said. “If there’s one thing I can pass on to my assistants is how to be creative, how to think outside the box, because as you can see, that leads to really good notes.”
After this year, Plati will turn over a lot of his day-to-day duties to Snyder. This year will mark the 39th and final football media guide he will produce and he’s no longer teaching a class at CU. He said it’s a good time to turn many aspects of the job over to the younger generation.
“Once you hit a certain age, the younger crowd, that’s their gig,” he said. “Let them enjoy it and do it and have the responsibility for it. I had my time.”
Plati will still be heavily involved at CU, however, including remaining as the main SID for golf, running the press box on game days and writing more of his “Plati-tudes” columns. He will also continue to coordinate CU’s Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor.
“It’s going to be kind of experimental as we go through stuff,” he said.
Plati’s colleagues from Arizona State, California and Southern California have stepped away from their SID roles in recent years after decades on the job. Plati will join them, partially.
“I don’t know (how I’ll handle it), but it’s going to be weird,” Plati said. “Everyone I’ve talked to that steps back, what they miss the most is game day, but I’m not giving that up yet.”
While Plati has become an iconic figure in the sports information industry and at CU, his greatest legacy might be those whom he has mentored. During his 40 years at CU, nearly 100 of his student assistants have gone on to work in the sports information business, either in college or the professional ranks.
“That’s probably the one thing I am most proud of, seeing the CU SID tree grow and grow,” he said.
Snyder, who has handled much of the daily football operations for the past few years, is on that tree and he’s excited for the opportunity.
“Before graduating from high school, I was lucky enough to have found Dave Plati and he openly afforded me that life-changing opportunity (in 1994),” Snyder said. “Dave has mentored so many of us through the trials and tribulations of the sports communication industry while simultaneously mentoring countless student-athletes, students, coaches and staff at CU not to mention peers in the SID and media worlds. Knowing David Plati is like being in a club, and I’ve been lucky enough to work inside that club for longer than most.
“I am beyond honored to be named interim SID and I do not take the task ahead lightly.”
As he has done for years, Plati will continue to work for the Rose Bowl and the College Football Playoff, as well as serving on the Colorado Golf and Colorado Music hall of fame committees.