Fall 2016 / Sports & Recreation

Q&A with DU Athletics Director Peg Bradley-Doppes on the Pioneers’ ongoing success

"Most people do not know, nor do they care, who the athletics director is," says Peg Bradley-Doppes. "All that matters is that I do my job." Photo: Wayne Armstrong

“Most people do not know, nor do they care, who the athletics director is,” says Peg Bradley-Doppes. “All that matters is that I do my job.” Photo: Wayne Armstrong

The success of University of Denver Athletics over the last decade is thanks in large part to the leadership of Peg Bradley-Doppes, vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations since 2006.

Bradley-Doppes — who before coming to DU held director-level positions at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the University of Michigan — guided the Pioneers to their fourth-straight Learfield Sports DI-AAA Directors’ Cup in July 2016. The award is given each year to the top NCAA Division I non-football school.

In a conversation held shortly after DU received the award, Bradley-Doppes looked back at her time at DU to date — and provided some insight into what is to come for the Pioneers.


Q: How did you get into athletics administration?

A: I was a Title IX baby. I was blessed with athletic ability and was able to play college sports at a high level. When I was done playing, I was fortunate in that Miami University [of Ohio] offered me their head volleyball and head softball coaching jobs. I was just 22, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. All I could do was mimic the best behavior of the other coaches and their coaching styles. When I went to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I asked [Hall of Fame] coach Dean Smith if I could watch his practices. This was my classroom, and I transferred this knowledge to my own coaching. When I became athletics director at Michigan, I took that approach when working with coaches. They are the experts. I just want to know how to help.


Q: What are the challenges for women in athletics administration?

A: If you are in a leadership position, you have an obligation to form positive relationships with others and to make a positive difference. Most people do not know, nor do they care, who the athletics director is. All that matters is that I do my job. I can remember when I was at the University of Michigan and they asked me to be the women’s athletics director. I was the only woman at most meetings, and that could be overwhelming at times, especially when looking at all the talent in the room. I could tell that people were sensitive to my gender, but I made them comfortable with me by making athletics success the thing that was focused on. It is not that I want others to overlook my gender, but I think that anyone who wants to be competitive has to find ways to connect with others and find ways to establish a common ground.


Q: You have made many key hires at DU, including, recently, lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, hockey coach Jim Montgomery and new men’s basketball coach Rodney Billups. What is the secret to finding a good coach?

A: I feel like I’ve always been able to effectively assess talent, but I am picky about getting someone I feel would be a great addition to the DU family. With the men’s lacrosse position, we were nearing the end of the process, and I still felt like I needed to make a call or two. I wanted to call Bill Tierney at Princeton. He’d had a great career, but like all of our coaches, there was drive and an emphasis on relationships. I told Bill, “You can stay at Princeton and win a few more national championships, or you could spend the rest of your career at the University of Denver growing the sport you love.” I did the same thing with Jim Montgomery. There are a lot of great college coaches, but we cannot be complacent so we broke the mold. We don’t settle. It’s a different style and energy, but it’s paying off huge dividends.


Q: How does athletics help further the environment of excellence at DU as a whole?

A: Sports are certainly an important part of the University’s fabric. In my mind, they are not the most important part, but they are often the most visible. As our athletics programs have become more and more competitive, the visibility of the University of Denver as an academic institution has increased, nationally and internationally. The DU brand is hot right now, and a lot of that has to do with the appeal of things like lacrosse on the East Coast, our foothold with conferences on the West Coast, and gymnastics now in the Big 12. People here are working hard to get our brand out there and to enhance the University’s reputation, but so much credit needs to be given to the University of Denver as a whole for living up to its brand once people get on campus.




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