DeWayne Peevy has large goals as DePaul’s new athletic director: ‘I’m here to win a national championship’

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Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics

DeWayne Peevy during his first press conference as DePaul's newest athletic director.

In his first press conference as DePaul’s newest athletic director, DeWayne Peevy did not waste any time to set lofty goals for himself and the Blue Demons. 

Speaking to reporters via zoom on Tuesday, Peevy gave multiple examples of what he wants to accomplish at DePaul in the short term and in the long run. 

First item on his agenda? Calling his friend and former co-worker at Kentucky, men’s basketball head coach John Calipari, to schedule a game between the Blue Demons and the Wildcats. 

That’s going to be the first thing I’m going after,” Peevy said. “So, Cal, if you’re listening get the phone ready.”

And if you weren’t listening Cal, Peevy wants the game to happen at Wintrust Arena. 

“And they have to come to Wintrust [Arena],” Peevy said. 

Peevy, 47, will be taking over from Jean Lenti Ponsetto on Sept. 1. He will also become DePaul’s first ever Black athletic director, and join Georgetown AD Lee Reed as the only two Black athletic directors in the Big East. 

He spent the last six years as Kentucky’s deputy director of athletics and has been with the athletic department for the last 12. Peevy also worked closely with the Wildcats’ athletic director, Mitch Barnhart, and played a prominent role with key fundraising efforts, strategic planning and media relations.

But it’s Peevy’s relationship with Calipari and the Wildcats’ men’s basketball team that stands out. Peevy oversaw the men’s basketball program and played a crucial role in building one of the most successful teams in the country.

Kentucky has now won the Southeastern Conference six times since Calipari took over 2009 and won the NCAA Tournament title in 2012. 

Now, coming over to DePaul, Peevy is still thinking big even though the Blue Demons have not had the same level of success as his previous employer has had in the last decade.

“I’m coming here to win a national championship,” Peevy said. “If everybody is not on board with dreaming those dreams, you might not be cut out for the new DePaul athletics.”

The last time DePaul made the NCAA Tournament was in 2004, with the following years resulting in mostly last place finishes in the Big East. Current DePaul head coach Dave Leitao is 64-98 in his last five seasons, and was given a four-year contract extension in April. 

Peevy believes in having a strong culture in athletics in order to find success on the court. He pointed to the transformation of Kentucky’s football team and how they have been able to get more victories. 

“I do think a winning championship level culture is part of the process,” Peevy said. 

But making a change at the head coaching position for DePaul men’s basketball is not something Peevy is looking to do right now. Instead, he wants to help Leitao as much as possible to build a winning culture and get the program moving in the right direction. 

“But that’s not something you have to change the coaches to do,” Peevy said. “That’s part of my job to bring a different level of it. Having a conversation right away with coach Leitao. You know, recruiting is at a higher level. How do we accomplish goals right now — what can we do right now to build a DePaul brand to a point where it’s more attractive to young people?”

While Peevy is going to try to help to turn around the men’s basketball program, he is also planning to work with women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno to take them to the next level — the Final Four.

“I’ve had some great conversations with coach Bruno,” Peevy said. “He’s a talker like me. So I told him we are going to have a bunch of days where we got to switch offices so we don’t wear out each other’s couches… I just told him, I asked him, how can I help you reach your goals, your dreams? 

“He’s a different approach because he’s like, well, I’ve got my own challenges and this is what I’m trying to do. It’s my job now to figure out how I fit into that because I want to create an environment for him for the second weekend [in the NCAA Tournament], and then how do we get him to that first Final Four.” 

Peevy was also asked about potentially playing more local basketball teams in Chicago, especially the likes of Illinois, Northwestern and Loyola. DePaul already has a home-and-home series set up with Northwestern, and is scheduled to play Loyola in 2020 and in 2021. 

“I haven’t talked to Dave at length about it, but I think there’s some opportunities to create some unique events,” Peevy said. “You might not do home-and-home with everybody because now with the Big East schedule with 20 games and a couple of challenges, you don’t have as many opportunities. But my thoughts are, you know, maybe we talk, and maybe one of the charges I take on early on is try to create a unique event — especially from a Chicago standpoint when we bring all the schools to one place and we play each other.” 

Creating an event of this magnitude would help generate plenty of fan interest from DePaul’s side, a fan base that has been starving to support a winner on the men’s basketball side. 

For Peevy, he hopes those fans will continue to believe in DePaul as a new era begins in Lincoln Park.

There is support and a fan base, and a rabid fan base at that,” Peevy said. “It’s just about getting them to take one little step farther. It might take some belief on the front end. I’m asking today, have faith in us. You’ve waited this long, it’s time to totally put your chips in the middle of the table. Go all-in with us.”