Taylor Stapleton is working on closing DePaul’s revenue gap while listening to fans and student-athletes

Taylor Stapleton is responsible for revenue generation and strategic initiatives.

Taylor Stapleton on Twitter

Taylor Stapleton is responsible for revenue generation and strategic initiatives.

The key to a new-look DePaul athletics is pretty simple listening.

With a new athletic director in charge, DeWayne Peevy, and a new position designed for revenue generation and strategic initiatives, run by Taylor Stapleton, DePaul’s athletic department is listening to all the parties involved: fans, alumni, coaches, university stakeholders and student-athletes. 

As the athletic department looks to generate more revenue and be more creative with its projects, hearing other perspectives is critical when coming up with new initiatives. 

“First thing you’ve got to do is you got to listen,” Stapleton said. “That’s why I’m on Twitter; that’s why DeWayne is on Twitter. We want to see what our fans are saying, we want to hear. You love hearing the good, and sometimes it’s hard to hear the bad, but you have got to listen. You have got to be engaged, you have to be visible.” 

Without listening and paying attention to what fans wanted, DePaul might not have brought back the old Billy Blue Demon logo in February. Fans were clamoring for the old logo to return in some capacity, and the athletic department partnered with Barnes & Noble to roll out merchandise featuring the logo. 

Peevy was hired in August to replace former athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto, while Stapleton joined the athletic department in November. Both Peevy and Stapleton used to work together at Kentucky and became good friends during their time with the Wildcats. 

Now the two are working closely to bring a similar experience for athletes and coaches at DePaul. They are also trying to connect with DePaul fans more often, listening to everything they have to say even the criticism. 

“I think it’s important to understand your fan base because while I may come in and say I have a little bit of experience in college athletics, and we have a number of individuals here that have years and years of experience in college athletics, [but] we have got to react to the fans and we have got to know how best to serve them,” Stapleton said. 

Stapleton, in particular, is looking to find new ways that will grow DePaul athletics’ brand and generate revenue at the same time. His days normally require him to attend six or seven Zoom meetings, but he is also spending time doing research on different ways to get creative with the athletic department.

“We are working hard every day to lay the groundwork so that we can get more self-generated funding in the door,” Stapleton said. “It’s tough when there’s no fans in the building; it’s not impossible, but it’s tough. We want to promote a first-class student-athlete experience, but we also have a responsibility to the university to make sure that we are using our funding appropriately.” 

Winning is seen as a strategy that will always solve any revenue issues in an athletic department. As a result, more fans will attend games and spend money on merchandise and other areas to support their team.

But, according to Stapleton, it’s not the only way to generate revenue. 

“Winning often helps revenue, but winning isn’t a revenue strategy,” he said. “Specifically in my role, how do we deliver an engaging experience, how do we create processes that are convenient, how are we innovative, how do we find new ways to get fans interested in providing some discretionary dollars towards us?”

Part of Stapleton’s role is looking into the developing market of ticket sales and finding price points that fit the athletic department and its fans. 

DePaul athletics does have a large revenue gap compared to some other Big East schools, and Peevy has admitted in the past that some sports — including men’s basketball — are underfunded. Stapleton admits that the athletic department faces some limitations but it simply requires them to think more outside of the box, especially during a pandemic. 

“We have a really large stage we play on and so we have got to continue to use that to our advantage to not only generate more funding for us, but also showcase how incredible our university is,” he said. “We can help [the university] achieve their goals as well in enrollment and retention. Those have to be our goals.”

Whether it’s listening to what other people are saying or implementing new technologies to increase revenue, Stapleton’s role encompasses all of that in order to increase the profile of DePaul athletics and help each team succeed. 

“We don’t have our head in the sand knowing that we are in a pandemic, there’s no fans [and] our university has a finite amount of resources,” he said. “We understand that the university is an academic institution first and you have got to be key in enrollment and retention. So we understand self-generated funding is the best option right now, and we have got to really work hard at that.”