DePaul AD says foundation to turn around struggling program is in place

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CHICAGO (AP) — DePaul athletic director DeWayne Peevy insisted the foundation to turn a struggling men's basketball program into a consistent winner is in place and he decided to fire coach Tony Stubblefield because the results did not match his expectations.

“I came here to win," Peevy said Tuesday. "I didn’t leave Kentucky to be last place or struggling through seasons. I didn’t just need another job. And so the opportunity right now for me in my career is really about helping these young people. Focusing on the students first leads you to success. They deserve better. We didn’t get the job done.”

Peevy was on the job about eight months after 12 years in Kentucky's athletic department when he hired Stubblefield in April 2021 to replace the fired Dave Leitao as DePaul's coach. Now, another search is under way.

The Blue Demons were 28-54 overall and 9-38 in Big East play in two-plus seasons under Stubblefield, who was fired on Monday. They’re headed to their fourth straight losing season, with a 3-15 record and 0-7 mark in the conference. DePaul has dropped 20 of 21 games against Big East opponents, counting the league tournament, since beating then-No. 8 Xavier on Jan. 18, 2023.

Peevy said he started thinking seriously about a coaching change after a 38-point loss to Providence at Wintrust Arena on Wednesday. DePaul then lost at Butler on Saturday in Stubblefield's final game. Interim coach Matt Brady will lead the Blue Demons when they host No. 14 Marquette on Wednesday.

Peevy said he has a list of candidates in mind and hopes to have a new coach in place by April 1. He said Chicago ties are a “huge factor,” but not necessarily a requirement. And the same goes for head coaching experience.

“I want the opportunity to hire the best coach that’s ready to take DePaul back to the NCAA Tournament,” Peevy said.

DePaul has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 2004, when Leitao was in his first tenure leading the Blue Demons. They have finished with a losing record in Big East play in all but one season since entering the league in 2005 and are on course to finish last in the conference for the 12th time in 16 years.

Peevy also said DePaul is at the bottom of the Big East in NIL opportunities. He said the struggles on the court were limiting the "opportunity for people to give money to NIL because they’re in wait-and-see mode.”

Peevy is also looking to increase the budget for the coaching search. That needs to be approved by the school.

DePaul has some strong selling points. They include a rich history, membership in one of college basketball's top conference's and a fertile recruiting ground in Chicago. The Blue Demons play home games in the sparkling Wintrust Arena in the city's South Loop and plan to build an on-campus basketball practice facility.

“An investment in athletics is an investment in this university,” Peevy said. “When the athletics wins, our whole university wins.”

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball