Dave Leitao to be rehired as DePaul head coach

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Dave Leitao will be rehired as DePaul men's basketball's next head coach. Leitao previously coached at DePaul from 2002 to 2005. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Dave Leitao will be rehired as DePaul men’s basketball’s next head coach. Leitao previously coached at DePaul from 2002 to 2005. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Former DePaul head coach Dave Leitao will be hired for a second stint as DePaul men’s basketball head coach, the school announced Sunday.

Leitao, 54, previously served as the Blue Demons’ head coach from 2002 to 2005. Leitao is the last head coach to have success at DePaul, taking the Blue Demons to the postseason three times with two trips to the NIT and one to the NCAA tournament. Leitao took the Blue Demons to the NCAA tournament during the 2003-04 season, where DePaul lost to UConn in the second round.

“This is a special day for my family and me,” Leitao said in a news release. “I underestimated what a special place DePaul University and the city of Chicago are when I left here in 2005. The dedication and support here to the growth of student success is second to none, not only for a basketball program but also for the entire student body. I’m proud and our team will be proud to represent this great institution in one of the world’s great cities. We will exude the work ethic that drives Chicago and the region every day and look forward to everyone joining us next season.”

Leitao bolted from DePaul in 2005 for Virginia, which turned out to be a failure. Leitao lasted four seasons at Virginia and only made the NCAA tournament once.  He was fired after the 2008-09 season after Virginia went 10-18.

ESPN’s Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman were the first to report that DePaul reached a deal with Leitao.  Katz also reported that Leitao’s deal with DePaul is a five-year deal.

The hiring comes as a bit of a surprise as DePaul also interviewed Buffalo’s Bobby Hurley and Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew, two younger up-and-coming head coaches, this weekend. ESPN reported Saturday that Leitao was also brought in to interview this weekend.

DePaul used Parker Executive Search, a top searching firm, to help hone in on Leitao.

“(Leitao’s) success here speaks for itself with three postseason appearances in three years with teams that energized our alumni and fans with their competitiveness and work ethic,” DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. “When he left in 2005, we recognized that it is the nature of our business that dynamic coaches get recruited away. Now we are pleased to welcome Dave, his wife Joyce and their family back to Lincoln Park with great enthusiasm for his leadership and the future development of our men’s basketball program.

“We are particularly grateful to Parker Executive Search for their guidance and assistance in this process. We had the opportunity to interview superb candidates and in the end Dave surfaced as our number one choice.”

Leitao most recently served as an assistant coach at Tulsa this season.