Reports: Kenny Payne is staying with the New York Knicks despite DePaul’s strong interest



New York Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne is a potential candidate to replace Dave Leitao at DePaul.

DePaul made a serious run at New York Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne to become the Blue Demons’ next men’s basketball head coach. 

DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban, chief of staff Steve Stoute and athletic director DeWayne Peevy all went to Milwaukee on Friday to meet with Payne and work out the logistics of the deal, a source confirmed to The DePaulia on Saturday. Payne and the Knicks were in Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Saturday.

But according to multiple reports, with Ian Begley of SNY first reporting, Payne has decided to stay with the Knicks, forcing DePaul to go in a different direction in its head coaching search. 

Payne was DePaul’s first choice in its head coaching search after firing Dave Leitao on March 15. Peevy and Payne used to work together at the University of Kentucky — with Peevy serving as the deputy athletic director for seven years, while Payne was an associate coach with the men’s basketball program from 2014-20.

Last August, both Payne and Peevy left Kentucky to pursue different opportunities. Peevy was hired to become DePaul’s new athletic director after Jean Lenti Ponsetto retired, and Payne became an assistant coach with the Knicks. 

Since DePaul fired Leitao, who went 69-112 overall and 21-85 in the Big East in six years with the program, Payne has been DePaul’s No. 1 target. According to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, DePaul cut down its list to three or five candidates on Tuesday. 

Other names that have been linked to the job are Loyola Chicago’s Porter Moser and Cleveland State’s Dennis Gates. According to Abby Schnable of the Loyola Phoenix, Moser will be returning to coach the Ramblers next season. He has also been linked to Indiana, who recently fired Archie Miller. 

“I need to digest this,” Moser told reporters after Loyola’s loss to Oregon State in the Sweet 16 on Saturday. “I’ve had my blinders on.”

The DePaulia has yet to confirm Begely’s report that Payne passed up on the chance to become DePaul’s men’s basketball coach.