On Tuesday, news that had long been speculated became official: As first reported by KSR’s Matt Jones, DeWayne Peevy, the Deputy Athletic Director at Kentucky, has been named the AD at DePaul. The news had seemingly been in the works for weeks and is now finally official, with Kentucky announcing Peevy’s departure and DePaul following it up by announcing his arrival.
Admittedly, we don’t normally do a lot of transactional, athletic department hiring’s and firings on this website. But it felt necessary here, if only to explain just how much this guy meant to the University of Kentucky, and it’s basketball program over the last decade and change. And while Peevy was long overdue to get a job of this magnitude (one he will crush, I have no doubt), it’s important to explain just how big of a hole he will leave behind at Kentucky.
Understand that Peevy has been at Kentucky for so long, that he actually pre-dates John Calipari by a year. In a world where there are now teenagers who don’t remember life in Lexington before Calipari was named head coach, Peevy was on the ground in the wild year of 2008 BC (“Before Cal”) starting in Billy Gillispie’s final season as the head coach.
And yeah, if that feels like a lifetime ago, it basically was. Peevy’s job responsibilities also reflect just how long ago, and just how different Kentucky was at the time. Poor Peevy spent his first year in Lexington trying to drum up any positive media coverage he could for the Kentucky basketball team, in a year when there really was no good news to report. Yes, there was a time – not long ago – where Kentucky didn’t have enough media coverage. Unlike today where it is impossible to keep track of all the newspapers, blogs, podcasts and radio shows who cover the team.
It also means that as Peevy walks out the door, he leaves with a little piece of history with him. He has been there since Day 1 of the Calipari era.
And when I say “since Day 1” I mean, the guy was literally there Day 1. When I wrote my book “One and Fun” some of the best, most vivid stories I got from the entire book centered around Calipari’s opening few days as the Kentucky basketball head coach. They were stories that many others had long since forgotten, or simply never took the time to commit to memory. It was Peevy who was there alongside Calipari as he prepared his opening press conference the day he accepted the Kentucky job. It was Peevy who tried to pass along notes, ones that Calipari stubbornly (surprise, surprise) chose not to use.
But it brings me to two important points. One, it’s that Peevy leaves as basically the unofficial historian of the Calipari era in Lexington. Two, outside of Kentucky’s assistant coaches, Peevy quickly became Calipari’s most-trusted right hand man at UK.
Really, the best way I can put it is this: You know how John Calipari is just a crazy visionary? A guy who comes up with a million new ideas every year, ranging from Big Blue Madness stuff to schedule quirks, the NBA Combine, on and on and on? Well, if Calipari is the guy throwing a million ideas at the wall, Peevy was the guy who had to execute them all.
When Calipari said “I want to beef up the schedule” early in his time at Kentucky, Peevy helped create the CBS Sports Classic (an event that Indiana was originally supposed to be a part of, according to Peevy). When Calipari said that he wanted to take his team down to the Bahamas for their once-every-four-years foreign tour, Peevy was the guy who had to call Atlantis and figure out where the team would play, how many hotel rooms they’d need and how to get opposing teams into the country. When Calipari wanted the latest and greatest crazy stunt at Big Blue Madness (think, John Wall dancing in the rafters) Peevy was the guy who worked with UK’s operations team to make it happen.
And those are really just examples of things I know about personally. I can’t imagine how many other hats he has worn at UK over the past 12 years.
More than anything though, what will be missed most around Lexington is Peevy’s unique ability to build relations and connect with people. See him at a UK basketball game and the poor guy never got a moment of free time, shaking hands with old friends, chatting with media members, you name it.
That extends beyond just gameday as well, as Peevy was essentially the connective fiber of Calipari’s “La Familia” culture in Lexington. Yes, Calipari is the Godfather, and yes, Calipari is in touch with his former players daily.
But so too is Peevy.
And in the same way those former players inherently trust Calipari they trust Peevy the same. Meaning that if you ever needed John Wall or Jamal Murray or Willie Cauley-Stein for something, Peevy was the guy to go to. He might not be able to get you on the phone with the player that day, but any time Peevy asked one of the guys for a favor, they obliged. It was never a hassle for the player. It was never a wild goose chase where you had to track down the player through a million PR people. If Peevy vouched for you, that was all the players needed to know. Usually you were on the phone with them within a day or two.
Add it all up, and that’s really why it is impossible to fully explain what Peevy leaving means to Kentucky basketball. Yes, he had a fancy title of “Deputy Athletics Director” in Lexington. But that’s just a job title. Kentucky will be able to fill the job. But they’ll never be able to replace the person they’re losing.
In the end however, what it all boils down to is what I said up top: Kentucky should just be thankful they had him as long as they did.
He’ll make a heck of an Athletic Director at DePaul. A job he was long overdue, and way overqualified for.