DePaul Aims to Emulate Kentucky in Hire of New A.D. DeWayne Peevey


The University of Kentucky is the most successful NCAA Division I basketball program in history in terms of both all-time wins (2,320) and all-time winning percentage (.765). DePaul University men’s basketball has finished last or tied for last in the Big East in nine of the last 11 seasons.

However, there was a time, and it wasn’t all that long ago, when DePaul was THE winter sports team in Chicago. Four decades ago, they were ranked the the #1 team in the nation. In 1979, they went to the Final Four. In those days, the Blackhawks weren’t televising their home games, so they were still somewhat obscure.

As you saw from “The Last Dance” this spring, the Bulls were extremely irrelevant until this cat named Michael Jordan came along in 1984. So the DePaul Blue Demons were where it was at; period. Having not made the NCAA Tournament since 2004, these memories are severely endangered.

“Our generation knows the brand, but if we don’t hurry up and take advantage of that, there will be no generation who has seen that success,” said DeWayne Peevey, the new DPU Athletics Director, and former University of Kentucky Deputy Athletics Director, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune today.

The hire was announced today, and Peevey, in the Trib interview, revealed what Coach John Calipari’s reaction was to his taking the new gig.

“He said: That’s a great job. Everyone I talked to in the basketball community, especially, said it’s a hidden gem, you’d be perfect,” Peevey said in reference to Coach Cal.

“As I dug deeper into the diversity, values and service mission of DePaul I liked it more. I knew about the history, Chicago, the Big East.”

Basically, Peevey was the “Men’s Basketball Athletic Director” in Lexington, and it’s a de facto position, not de jure, and to truly understand the gravitas of it, well, you have to be there. Can he bring the zeitgeist of Big Blue Nation to the Blue Demons?

How does he make the transition from the bluest of all the blue bloods to a place where the program has been off the map, for quite a significant time?

Well, here is what Peevey said, officially, as he said goodbye to the bluegrass state.

“I will miss ‘My Old Kentucky Home. College athletics have been my heartbeat for as long as I can remember.”

“From the University of Montevallo, my time at the Gulf South Conference and Southeastern Conference, and most recently at the University of Kentucky, watching young men and women grow and compete has been the center of my universe.

“At UK, I was unbelievably fortunate to fulfill that passion and enjoy the privilege to play a small part in the lives of our student-athletes.”

“If that alone was the impact Kentucky had on our lives, it would be worth it alone. But perhaps more than that, we are leaving family. Lexington has become our home. My wife, Allison, and I have raised our kids, Kaitlyn and Braden, in Lexington.”

“We’ve been embraced – and become a part of – Big Blue Nation. The relationships we have built at Kentucky will last a lifetime. For us to walk away from that is difficult, but we do so knowing that we will always be a part of BBN and will keep a close eye on the success of the Wildcats.”

Peevy will become the seventh current Division I athletic director to work under UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. He joins Alabama’s Greg Byrne, Mississippi State’s John Cohen, Minnesota’s Mark Coyle, Oregon’s Rob Mullens, Murray State’s Kevin Saal and Florida’s Scott Stricklin on the Barnhart AD tree.

“DeWayne is someone I trust wholeheartedly, to the point where he became the center of our scheduling and worked hand-in-hand with me on just about everything we do. It made it so that he and I talked every day, oftentimes multiple times a day,” Coach Cal said.

“DePaul will see quickly that DeWayne is a gatherer, a listener, a consensus builder and an idea man who gathers the right people in place to execute. I can’t wait to see what happens for the athletic department at DePaul and for DeWayne personally.”

Peevey, who led the creation of the CBS Sports Classic (hey, remember when “events” were a thing? And we could actually attend “events?”) drew high praise from Barnhart.

“DeWayne is already a well-respected leader in college athletics as he has shown the ability to be effective in numerous areas of athletics administration,” said.

“At UK, his impact will be felt for years to come, and we will be able to enjoy the memories of the successes in our program we experienced together. We’re excited for him and look forward to seeing him grow the program at DePaul.”

Obviously, Peevey has a whole lot of work cut out for him in Lincoln Park. However, he’s also a fast riser with a lot of ambition, so there is no doubt he can meet the challenge.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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