AD Peevy outlines 5-year plan for DePaul Athletics


Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics

DePaul athletic director DeWayne Peevy speaks during his first press conference

DePaul athletics is looking to have a bit of a renaissance. Athletic director DeWayne Peevy, hired in August 2020, laid out the five-year plan in a webinar Tuesday night titled: “From DREAMS to REALITY.” The event, run by alumni relations, let Peevy talk for an hour on the goals the department has to bring DePaul’s athletic department to the next level.

The goal is rather straightforward: become the premier program in the Big East conference and build a “championship culture.” The way to get there is through five guiding principles laid out by Peevy: academic excellence, building the DePaul brand, championship experience, developing and equipping future leaders and external outreach.

Peevy stressed the importance of a new purpose statement: “We transform lives and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow through college athletics.” Peevy said the department came up with the purpose statement over his time at the school.

“We want everybody in this department — whether you’re staff, student athletes, coaches, administrators — to understand why we exist,” Peevy said. “What is our purpose on this campus? What is our purpose in this community? What is our purpose in the city?”

As far as academic excellence goes, Peevy referred to a goal of a 3.0 grade point average for each of DePaul’s 15 teams — a goal that was reached this past year.

In order to strengthen DePaul’s brand, Peevy wants to “establish ourselves as Chicago’s team.” Instead of being a stepping stone for people in their larger careers, he wants DePaul to be a destination place for student-athletes and coaches alike.

“We want to make [DePaul] a household name,” he said. “There’s an opportunity as the front porch of this university, which is athletics. What I mean by that is if you go to buy a house, and the front porch looks all raggedy, are you stopping to go in? No. But if it is pristine and draws your attention and looks immaculate, you might step into the front door to see what the rest of the house looks like.”

Championship experience has to do with finding a way to bring up the performance level of all 15 sports. Getting to a championship level will be challenging, but Peevy acknowledged the importance and difficulty of building and maintaining a championship culture. Among Peevy’s goals were to crack the top 100 with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics’ (NACDA) ranking. In order to score points towards the ranking, teams need to make it to the NCAA tournament. DePaul is currently unranked.

This spring, DePaul’s men’s tennis team won the Big East conference tournament and made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time.

“Those are the kinds of things that need to be happening on a regular basis,” Peevy said. “Where making the tournament no longer becomes the ceiling, but is now the floor.”

Developing and equipping future leaders is a key part of the new purpose statement. The name, image and likeness bill  signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday, opens a new avenue that could be promising for DePaul athletics. Peevy was with Pritzker in Champaign for the signing of the bill, and is a proponent of allowing student-athletes to profit off of their own intellectual property.

“[It’s important to] teach our young people how to be able to handle this entrepreneurship, and branding opportunity,” Peevy said. “Our partnership with the Driehaus College of Business and the College of Communication, those are the things that we have to equip them with to be the type of leaders for tomorrow.”

With external outreach, Peevy wants more open communication with alumni and current students. Fundraising specifically is a major priority; Peevy said that the past year has been the fourth-best fundraising year in DePaul history, with over $1 million coming from the Blue Demon Challenge alone.

Among the goals in those five principles include partnerships with companies, like the one with JMI Sports, who signed a five-year multimedia rights contract with DePaul. Peevy worked with JMI while at Kentucky, and hopes to engage more with the Chicago community as a result of the deal.

“Through this partnership, DePaul Athletics and JMI Sports will seek to develop valuable relationships with sponsors and generate new revenues to support DePaul Athletics while enhancing the student-athlete and fan experience,” the university said in a statement on the partnership.

DePaul’s athletic department has high hopes for the upcoming basketball season in particular. Wintrust Arena will welcome fans back on Nov. 9 for women’s basketball and Nov. 10 for men’s basketball.

Filling seats at Wintrust has proven difficult for DePaul since the 2017-18 season. Wintrust has a capacity of 10,387, yet DePaul has yet to average above 25 percent real capacity per game in a season. DePaul does not plan on having Covid-19 restrictions on capacity in the winter, but Peevy cited a need to get more fans in seats.

“Now it’s our job to fill 100 percent,” he said. “It doesn’t do us any good if we’re 100 percent capacity and we got 25 percent of the seats sold.”