Editor’s Note: Dave Plati, a long-time FWAA member, will receive the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 7 at the San Jose Marriott prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
By Neill Woelk
BOULDER, Colo. — He has worked for six athletic directors, eight head football coaches and seven men’s basketball coaches. He has overseen national championship seasons in four sports and shepherded the campaigns for a long list of national award winners, including a Heisman Trophy, two Thorpe awards, two Butkus awards, a Mackey winner and literally dozens of football All-Americans.
He was also recently selected for the national CoSIDA Hall of Fame, making his career one that has become a standard of the industry. But, as he closes in on wrapping up his fourth decade at the same school, Colorado’s David Plati still approaches his job with the same goals every day.
Take care of his student-athletes, coaches and the university by making sure they get the best possible representation in every manner available. It has produced a career that has earned him legendary status among coaches and athletes, as well as his peers and those who cover the Buffaloes.
“I have him on my very short Mount Rushmore list of sports information directors, from a bygone era, who have bridged the gap from old-school to space age without losing a step,” said former Los Angeles Times writer Chris Dufresne. “Coaches and athletic directors have come and gone in Boulder. It is Plati who has remained the department stabilizer, in good times and bad. Dave has been a fair broker with the media, understanding our jobs are different than his job. From our end, he also runs a lean, mean, no-nonsense and professional working press box. On top of that, he is a talented, versatile, funny editor and writer who (arguably) produces the best game notes packages in the country.”
Plati, 58, was named the 13th full-time sports information director in CU history on July 24, 1984, after serving for three years as the assistant SID. The youngest SID in the nation at the time of his hiring, he previously worked as a student assistant and statistician after coming to CU as a freshman in 1978.
His primary responsibilities are with the football and men’s golf programs, though he oversees the sports information efforts for all sports, and at one time or another he has personally handled nine sports during his CU career. He has worked or covered more than 2,150 CU events, including 455 football games heading into the 2018-19 school year. Of those 455, he worked 410 in a row, a stretch that ended in 2017 due to a minor health issue.
Through those years and events, he left an indelible impression on coaches and student-athletes.
“Dave was an incredible resource during my time at CU,” said former CU All-American and Butkus Award winner Matt Russell. “The exposure he generated for all of us and our teams, spearheading our award campaigns and highlighting our achievements, was second to none. He was a friend and mentor to me and my teammates, an advocate and a voice in our ear helping us to manage the spotlight. He always made sure we represented ourselves and our school in a positive way as student-athletes.”
Plati also always earned the trust of his coaches — in good times and in bad.
“Three words jump in my mind when I think of Dave Plati,” said former CU coach Bill McCartney, who led the Buffaloes to a 1990 national title. “Wholehearted, genuine and thorough. He’s all-in. You know the expression, ‘All-in or nothing at all’ — he’s all-in. Every day he hits the ground running and gets the job done, and he’s a Buff through and through. With me, he was always respectful, honoring, genuine and helpful. I trusted him, and that’s important for a head coach.”
Throughout his career, Plati has also earned a reputation for tutoring and preparing young assistants for professional careers. Dozens of his former students and assistants have gone on to high-profile jobs in professional and collegiate sports.
“He is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known and his passion and love for the Buffs is unmatched,” said South Carolina Assistant AD/Communications Steve Fink. “His unique and creative mind, along with his penchant for numbers, trivia and pop culture, is unrivaled in the field.”
Under Plati’s direction, Colorado has also won seven FWAA Press Box and/or Super 11 awards, given to sports information departments and programs that “exemplify excellent media relations.”
“Dave likes to run his press box by FWAA rules — to the letter,” said B.G. Brooks, who covered the Buffs for 25 years for the Rocky Mountain News. “Dave wants professionalism from his staff, his student assistants and press box patrons. Tight ship, in other words. All that said, don’t get the idea it’s a prison ship. Dave likes an enjoyable, cordial environment. But keep it professional.”
Plati’s peers in the business have also always accorded him great respect.
“I’ve always had a great respect for Dave because of his commitment to executing the fundamentals of our profession without compromise and also because of his unbending loyalty to the University of Colorado,” said Doug Vance, former Kansas SID and current executive director of CoSIDA. “Without question, he’s one of the most hard working and creative SID’s I’ve ever encountered.”
But Plati has never been one to seek the spotlight or accolades.
“When you think of Dave, the song ‘Nobody Does it Better’ comes to mind,” former CU football coach Gary Barnett said. “That is simply true. Everyone who ever received a national or league award over all these years has Dave Plati to thank. He emerged early on as a force in his business and established himself as one of the very best.”