The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Stubblefield out as men’s basketball coach, search for replacement underway

Patrick Sloan-Turner
Head coach Tony Stubblefield surveys the court during his team’s loss to Creighton on senior day, March 4, 2023, at Wintrust Arena, in Chicago, Ill.

In a whirlwind of developments for DePaul Athletics in the past week, Vice President and Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy took center stage by announcing the dismissal of Tony Stubblefield from his position as head coach of the men’s basketball program. 

“When we made this hire [of Stubblefield], we did so intending to play basketball late into March,” Peevy said of the timing of his decision. “That goal hasn’t changed, and I am not backing down from that. After evaluating the current state of our men’s basketball program, I decided to make a change in the head coaching position.”

The university will immediately begin the process of a national search for the next head men’s basketball coach. Peevy is optimistic that the new resources at DePaul, like the recently introduced practice facility in Lincoln Park and the possibility of additional funding from the university, will enhance his search for the right coach for the program this time around.

“I will use every tool available, including the use of a search firm for certain aspects of things that I can’t do personally, but this is just a different go around because we’re not limited by Covid,” Peevy said. “We do actually have a campus that people can come on to. We can bring if we want to, candidates into Wintrust Arena. I have the opportunity to fly out and visit somebody that I couldn’t do three years ago, and I also have a full Board of Trustees and university support.”

Regarding what Peevy seeks in his next head coach, he remains open-minded and does not restrict himself to specific qualifications. This includes potential candidates from the NBA, current college head coaches with other programs or even assistants at various levels. The goal will be to find the best candidate that can lead DePaul back to the NCAA Tournament.

The process will be comprehensive and open-minded, but one factor that may play a role in the coaching search is the candidates’ connections to Chicago.

“That’s always a factor,” Peevy said of how much of an element Chicago ties will have in the process. “But it’s easy to be able to have some ties or have been able to recruit student-athletes from this area because there’s been so many. That can’t be the only thing, but it is a factor that can help or aid a coach in trying to get this done.”

The mid-season firing of Stubblefield was unexpected, particularly given that the last time DePaul took such a step was in 2010 with Jerry Wainwright, who was dismissed 15 games into his fifth season. Stubblefield, hired in 2021, on the other hand, was let go 18 games into his third season.

Senior guard Jalen Terry, who shares a close bond with Stubblefield from their time together at Oregon, was caught off guard by the unexpected mid-season change.

“First it was kind of shocking to me and we [the team] just got closer together and stuck together,” Terry said. “He’s a coach I had for about three years and he recruited me to Oregon. I guess you got to be ready for change.”

Only after the Jan. 17 Providence game, where the team endured a 100-62 loss in front of its home crowd, did Peevy entertain the idea of parting ways with Stubblefield. He carefully considered the decision, refraining from making a final call until Monday morning.

Once the decision was made official on Monday morning, Peevy appointed special assistant to the head coach, Matt Brady as the interim for the rest of the season. 

“For me, it was pretty simple because of the 12 years of head coaching experience that allowed the rest of the staff to be stable and stay in their same roles without a lot of change for our student-athletes,” Peevy said. “Bringing an outside person in was something I didn’t want to do.” 

Matt Brady gives orders during his first game as DePaul’s Interim Head Coach in a 73-86 loss to Marquette Jan. 24, at Wintrust Arena. Brady was named Interim Head Coach two days earlier. (Will Robson)

Brady’s familiarity with such situations stems from his experience as an assistant coach at Maryland during the 2021-22 season, whereas head coach Mark Turgeon resigned mid-season. Despite not being named as interim coach at the time, Brady’s previous experience in navigating such situations facilitated a seamless transition for Peevy.

The former James Madison and Marist head coach is not giving much thought to the potential impact on his career in his role as interim head coach. His primary goal and focus will be on supporting the student-athletes and helping them navigate through the season.

“This has got to be about the student-athletes,” Brady said. “How are we going to make these guys enjoy the process? We want them to love what happens in the next eight months, so the administration can retain some of these guys, it’s just the nature of the business. I want these players to love playing basketball at DePaul.”

Interim Head Coach Matt Brady huddles with DePaul players Elijah Fisher (center) and Jalen Terry (right) during a game against Marquette Jan. 24, at Wintrust Arena. Terry, a senior, scored a season-high 22 points in his first collegiate game not coached by Tony Stubblefield. (Will Robson)

While the school is still in the early stages of its hiring process, the plan is to find its next men’s basketball coach by April 1.

“Hopefully we have an opportunity to get this done by the end of March,” Peevy said. “Then I can go to Arizona with my new coach and be on every show while we’re watching the NCAA Tournament.”

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