After the end of the Second World War, in 1946, the idea took hold in the British Occupation Zone to set up an institution along the lines of the former DHfL. The “Zonenerziehungsrat“ (Zone Education Advisory Council) developed the concept of a democratic “Sport University” of an interdisciplinary nature, which would teach sport as a part of character-building and a means of achieving self-fulfilment through games. Cologne was chosen to be the location ahead of Frankfurt and Munich. A decisive factor for the choice was the commitment by the City of Cologne to make the largely undamaged Muengersdorf Stadium available and to take on its ownership. Carl Diem was nominated as the founder director of the Sporthochschule Köln (Sport University Cologne).

On 7th July 1947, academic teaching began with 35 women and 65 men. It faced great material hardships and organisational difficulties. However, the establishment of the university was diligently pursued, and the numbers of students steadily increased. In 1960, the foundation stone for the new campus was laid and, in 1962, an agreement was signed for the take-over of the Sport University Cologne by the State of NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia).