November 18, 2020


Get to know DeWayne Peevy, DePaul’s new director of athletics

Earlier this year DePaul University named a new director of athletics, DeWayne Peevy. Coming from the University of Kentucky, Peevy sits down with DePaul Download three months into his tenure to share more about how he’s adjusting to DePaul’s campus and the city, his “ABCs of DePaul Athletics,” and some previously unknown facts about himself.



​LINDA BLAKLEY: Welcome to DePaul Download. I'm you're host, Linda Blakley, vice president of University Marketing and Communications. 

Earlier this year, DePaul University named DeWayne Peevy the Blue Demons' new director of athletics. Coming from the University of Kentucky, DeWayne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to DePaul and collegiate athletics, particularly men's basketball, athletic administration, fundraising, strategic planning and a student-athlete-first attitude. 

Now, nearly three months into his tenure at DePaul, DeWayne joins us on the podcast today to tell us how he's adjusting to campus, his plans for Blue Demon athletics and the impact of COVID‑19. Welcome, DeWayne to DePaul and to the DePaul Download podcast.

DEWAYNE PEEVY: Well, thanks, Linda. I'm glad to be a guest on the DePaul Download podcast. I'm excited. Obviously, it's been a great start. So looking forward to this.
LINDA BLAKLEY: Well, let's start with how you're adjusting to our kind of town. How has your time in Chicago and with the Blue Demons been so far?  What have you learned?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: Well, I learned that I cannot count on any of my weather apps that I used in the past because they don't work.  Like whatever the forecast is, it's going to be something different, so I have learned that. 

But it's been great. I've got a little bit of the weather tasted. The fact that I started September 1, it was still getting a little bit of what was left from the summer. During my recruitment/interview process, I got a chance to taste a little bit of Chicago's summer even in the pandemic. I'd never been to Chicago in the summer before all of this, and so I'm looking forward to a normal Chicago summer. 

But I've also ‑‑ my frequent visits to Chicago have been normally in November and December, so I'm getting into that normal time to know what it is, and I'm on board for that, but my family is getting adjusted.

We just closed on a condo in Lincoln Park. We're trying to finalize everything back in Kentucky, you know, on closing that part of -- that chapter in our lives and just ready to really get fully inundated into what we're doing here at DePaul University.

LINDA BLAKLEY: What has been challenging for you in these early weeks?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: I think the biggest thing has been, honestly, the COVID‑19 pandemic. I mean, you dream about this opportunity, you dream about being in that seat and being the athletic director.  You have your press conference. Nobody can be there. Luckily, I was able to have my immediate family, but it didn't go the way you want it to. 

So the first day on the job, nobody's at the office, so I don't get that moment, so to speak. But the biggest challenge day to day is that I'm not ‑‑ I'm having a hard time with getting to know our student athletes and staff because I don't get to be around them as much as you normally would. 

So we don't have games to play, but that will happen in due time. I've done a lot of virtual, you know, Zooms, one‑on‑ones, being more intentional in that way with our alumni, with our supporters, with our staff, with our student athletes and teams and coaching staffs just to supplement those things, at least letting them get to know me, because, obviously, trying to get to know 290 plus people, when you see them around, they got a mask on, and I can say, "Hello.  Hi," but I probably have no idea who I just talked to later on when I actually see what they look like. 

So it's been a challenge, but that's part of it. And if that's the challenge that I'm going to have going forward, I'll take that in a heartbeat.

LINDA BLAKLEY: One thing that hasn't changed for you is media relations has been a big part of your career. How do you plan on using those experiences at DePaul?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: Well, I think the biggest role in this job right now, especially in a pandemic, is being a communicator. That's the one thing that people have time for right now. We might, can't visit and have big events, but they can sit down and have a conversation, just like you and I are having.  Right? And so I've been taking advantage of doing a lot of that, using my communication skills to be able to have conversations, open‑ended conversations. 

Obviously, I've got a plan on how we need to be a little more external facing. We need to get out there. People need to know about what's going on at DePaul University, especially in athletics, before we start playing any basketball games, and that starts on our campus. I've been visiting with a lot of our campus constituents, trying to do some student media type things without students fully being on campus. 

I'd like to develop a relationship with The DePaulia because I feel like the student newspaper is a very big fabric of what we do every day, and I want them to have a big understanding of who I am and what my department's going to be all about and feel like they have an inside view. They're right here on campus.  They should know us better than anybody. 

But then, also, how do we expand that? And my contacts, especially in the national basketball scene, to do more things to get DePaul on their radar. You know, more things regionally, nationally.

I've dealt with Chicago media before in the past, so at least I have some sense of what we're dealing with, but we've probably got to think even bigger than that to get us where we're trying to go.

LINDA BLAKLEY: So, can you share some of your short‑term and long‑term goals for Blue Demon athletics?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: When I came into the job, I had a 90‑day plan.  And to make sure, I'm on day 64 right now. So, you know, I've got a little ways to go, but the time is short. 

But part of those plans were those one‑on‑one meetings. So the first Monday I was here in Chicago, I met with our ten head coaches, one‑on‑one, for an hour‑plus each and really just wanted to dial in to who I am, my vision, where I see us going in our future, talking about dreaming big dreams and things of that nature. 

Met with all my department heads for some of the same reasons, to get a sense of really ‑‑ it gave me a good picture of what DePaul athletics is about, I mean, the people. And I had my thoughts and plans of what I thought my department should look like or my vision for DePaul athletics, but I needed to make sure I had a little Blue Demon tint to it, not just based on my experience at the SEC or Kentucky. 

And so that's kind of what I've been doing in these 90 days is evaluating all things, and that's part of those things I've, you know, tried to target having, you know, a hundred meetings with alumni or supporters within our first hundred days, but really just starting up some of our friend-raising, fundraising, some of the things with city and state officials as far as playing events.

It's been ‑‑ I've been able to hit the ground running, which is what I hoped for. 

A lot of times you start these jobs in the summer. It gives you a little bit of some time. But starting September 1, with class starting, you know, shortly thereafter, I've kind of had to get going because, you know, the quarter will end soon.  And but it's been really good.

So I think from a short‑term plan, we're in pretty good shape.  And I plan on by the end of the calendar year having a new strategic plan for DePaul athletics to deliver. 

From a long‑term, you know, my vision, it's what I call the “ABCs of DePaul athletics." I want us to be the premier athletics program in the Big East Conference. So I'm not selling short of that.  And I know that might be dreaming big, but I think that can be a reality.

And our plan for that is continue our academic excellence, which we've been ‑‑ we had -- 174 of our student athletes were honored by the Big East, by far the most in our conference, honored academically.  And so going forward, we want to maintain a 3.0 GPA for all 15 of our sports, but our new goal is a 3.5 overall.  Now, we got that in the spring quarter, a lot of that because, you know, maybe you don't get as much credit for that because of Pass/Fail and some other things, but we want that to be a normal goal for us. We've tasted it now. Let's push forward for a 3.5 overall GPA, which is pretty lofty goals academically in athletics. 

You know, the B in that is building the DePaul brand, and that's what I'm spending a lot of my time on right now, getting out, meeting people. A lot of people don't even know there's a change in athletics. A lot of people turned the channel off for DePaul athletics years ago because of frustration. I'm trying to get people to resubscribe. Get back on. Get back on. Stick with us if you've been with us, but jump back on. Resubscribe to DePaul athletics channel and find out what's going on. 

So having some conversations with some of our best and brightest from athletics of past as help, and we've got some things and some marketing plans to go out in the future to help people know that we're back, we're here, make sure you're following what's going on. 

The C in that is championship experiences. And I feel like our young people -- college is supposed to be the best four years of your life, and right now they're not facing that with everything that's going on in this nation and in the world, but we can be a part of that, where they look back, and if they're all having these championship experience, playing at a high level of achievement, they can still look back at this as a very good time in their lives, and that's going to help make great young men and women. 

The D in that is developing of our people. And that's not just our students, but our staff and our coaches too. How do we become better leaders? How do we become better people overall? And that's being intentional about that and investing in external pieces, third parties coming in and helping train us to be better at what we're doing. 

And the last piece, I've mentioned before, is our external outreach. You know, how do we get out there and make people know that DePaul is a big‑time environment school athletic program.  A lot of people don't know how great our university is, and that's probably athletics' fault, because we're the front porch.  We're what a lot of people see if they don't know anything about DePaul. And if we're not doing well on our athletics side, they might just assume the school's not that good either.

So we need to do our part so people dig a little deeper, because when I looked into this job, I was amazed of the academic prowess of the university. You know, where we stand in the top five and top ten in everything from business, theater, technology, innovation. So why isn't everybody talking about that? But we've got to do our part in athletics to help growing that brand so people will dig deeper to find out how good a school. 

I've got a daughter that's a freshman at Kentucky State. And as we went through this process, she was pretty upset with me. She said, "You would get this job now." If she'd have known what she knew about DePaul before, she would have chose DePaul before I did, but she didn't know much about DePaul either. And so that's just a prime example of how some of our young people might not realize how good a school this is. And so that's just another asset that we can sell on the athletic side as well.

LINDA BLAKLEY: A, B, C, D, E. I love that. 

COVID‑19 has impacted almost every part of our lives. As DePaul's director of athletics, what steps are being taken to help give student athletes a quality yet safe athletic experience?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: Well, I think it first starts with our campus and the seriousness they've taken with dealing with the COVID‑19 virus. 

You know, we have a rule right now on campus where you have to wear a mask anywhere on campus. You know, I can't even take my mask off until I'm in my office by myself just to be safe for others because we ‑‑ you don't know who you're impacting. We're already staggering coming into the office. Most people are doing everything remotely just to be healthy and safe.

But the student athletes, they're part of the majority of students that are on campus right now and so they have a different charge. And so, we're trying to teach them and train them to be understandable and they're going to make some mistakes, but this is a teaching environment. That's what campus is all about, learning. And I think that's the role that we have to take. 

One, I've never seen kids so happy about training and practice, because they've been so isolated so long. When I first got here, even though everybody's got their mask on, I can see the smiles on their faces because they were so excited to be around other people and training and doing what they ‑‑ you know, this is a tough deal. 

You have to be an elite athlete to be a college athlete at DePaul at this level. So they've worked their lives for this point, and just having a chance to not know if they're going to play again, you know, the mental health of our kids is just as worse, I mean, as some of our physical health with the virus. 

And so, you know, I put a message out to them just to look out for each other, you know, check on your teammates. I mean, check on your staff and your coaches, too, because this is a tough time for us. 

And so I think we're just trying to be more intentional about their physical health and making sure they understand why we have these policies and procedures in place, but also make sure from a mental health standpoint that we're at least looking out and understanding this is really hard. Not only are they athletes and practicing and training, but they're going to school full‑time, too, remotely in a way that maybe they didn't sign up for. Everybody might, can't do that as well. And just trying to understand that we've got to be a little more lenient but also more aware to make sure we're taking care of these young people.

LINDA BLAKLEY: What's one thing that the DePaul community doesn't already know about you?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: I am ‑‑ it's probably a hard year to swallow it, but I am a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. 

You know, this is probably a year where it's okay because you don't even hate me right now because we're so bad, but it's making it easier for me to be a Bears fan right now because I want a winning team to look after.

But my brother was a big Steelers fan growing up. He's an older brother, and so since a little kid I wanted to root for the team he hated the most, and so that's kind of why I've been a Cowboys fan, he said since I was two years old. But that's probably the one thing I haven't talked about to anybody that I'm a Cowboys fan. It's not something you want to brag about right now, but it might be a little easier. I definitely added a team for sure. 

That's one thing. So -- but that's probably one thing that people don't know about me.

LINDA BLAKLEY: And then one final question. With the holidays quickly approaching, what is your family's favorite Thanksgiving tradition that you're looking forward to?

DEWAYNE PEEVY: Well, the biggest thing for me about the holidays is family getting together. And I'm probably looking forward to next year more than this year because we're probably not going to get to do that. 

You know, we usually rotate, whether it's going to see, you know, my side of the family or my wife's or maybe somebody that's coming to visit us.

Right now my daughter just coming back to Chicago after she gets out of school for the holidays is probably the best thing we've got. You know, we'll finally be moved into our new place, and I'm going to actually pick her up myself. And I don't know if you knew, but I actually studied in an executive MBA program, which is at the University of Kentucky in Louisville that I'm doing remotely too. And so, actually, I'm going to go down for an in‑person class for a day and bring my daughter back with me. 

So I'm looking forward to all of the four of us -- because my son, Braden, he's an eighth grader, 13, and he's doing school remotely in Kentucky. He's looking for a high school here. So give us some time for ninth grade. 

And my wife, Allison, who we had our 16th wedding anniversary on the day I interviewed for the job. So the fact to get us all four back together, it's been a while. Since Kaitlyn went off to school, before we came to Chicago, we haven't all been back together as a family for an extended period of time. 

So I'm really looking forward to that, you know, kind of a christening or breaking in our new home for the holidays and being real true Chicagoans.  I'm looking forward to that for many years to come, and this time of year just brings that about.

LINDA BLAKLEY: Thank you, DeWayne, for talking with me today.  We are all looking forward to the day when we can all get together to watch DePaul's athletes compete in person. And in the meantime, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

DEWAYNE PEEVY: You too. I hope the same for you.

I know ‑‑ I tell you, the people on this campus, they've been great for me and my family right away. It's so welcoming. It feels like home already, and so I'm looking forward to a beautiful future together for DePaul University.

LINDA BLAKLEY: I'm Linda Blakley. Thank you for listening to the DePaul Download podcast presented by DePaul's Division of University Marketing and Communications.