Peg Bradley-Doppes is 32-year veteran of NCAA Division I programs where she served as a head coach for 11 years and an athletics’ administrator for 21 years. Under her leadership the Denver Pioneers have won five NCAA Championships, four NCAA I-AAA Directors’ Cups, 51 conference titles, 40 coach of the year honors and numerous national rankings since being appointed the University’s 12th Director of Athletics.
She was good enough to share with Winthrop Intelligence her thoughts on community involvement and technology’s role in strategic planning and success.
Denver has had a lot of success on the field and in the classroom (winning 4 of the last 5 Directors’ Cup for Division I non-football schools), but what have your athletes and staff accomplished in the community that makes you most proud?
Without a doubt, the success of our program in recent years is a source of tremendous pride and could not have been achieved without the outstanding efforts of our students, coaches and administrators. Our student-athletes are always striving for success in the classroom and on the fields of play. At the same time, what we do in the community influences how our school is viewed.
As we approach 150 years of serving the Rocky Mountain Region, the University of Denver is in a very unique position within the metro area. With the longevity of the institution comes an expectation of being accessible to all constituents. The Division of Athletics and Recreations certainly embraces this expectancy through the programs we offer that touch our fellow Coloradans.
Specifically, we are proud of our interaction with the schools districts across the city, thereby ensuring that Denver youth have access to our teams, coaches and administrators. A shining example of this outreach is our Rising Stars program. Through it, selected students are encouraged to bring as many family members and friends as they wish to a specified Pioneer sporting event to witness the presentation of a certificate they receive before the game and recognition during the contest. This public acknowledgement positively impacts all associated.
Additionally, the DU gymnastics team has visited nearly every club in the area to promote the sport and encourage the young men and women to continue to work hard. We also partnered with a new non-profit called 5th Gear Kids to help promote a healthy lifestyle for all fifth graders in two school districts. These, along with many other initiatives, are what keep our program ascending.
What goes into building or strengthening community partnerships? How have you cultivated those relationships and how have they paid off?
In today’s athletics environment the coaches and administrators working on behalf of a university must have a more diverse outlook and focus than sports. While athletics is and always will be the driver, a program can only attain and maintain an elite status by being fully engaged in the community. To achieve this level of involvement requires strategic hiring and networking.
At the University of Denver we have been fortunate to build a staff that truly values community engagement and has brought to the table their networks in myriad areas – religious, social, corporate, athletic, political, etc. These interactions have helped our program grow in ways that had not been realized in the past.
We also know that our corporate sponsors can help in this community connection through the various programs with which they align on a regular basis. For example, a recent initiative with Champion Windows enabled us to share with our alumni the positive outcomes that would be realized by youth in need through their window purchases.
What is one challenge that your program has overcome and one future challenge you see you’d like to surmount?
It goes without saying that every athletic department has been forced to adjust to the instability existing among collegiate sport alliances. Perhaps at no time has there been more upheaval. While the University of Denver was certainly affected, last fall we also faced the significant challenge of maintaining a viable athletics and recreation program in the face of our University serving as the host for the first 2012 Presidential Debate.
When DU’s Ritchie Center, the home for Pioneer Athletics and Recreation, was overtaken by the Commission on Presidential Debates, our teams were forced to find new venues for practices and in some cases for competitions. Our coaches and student-athletes did a tremendous job of staying focused during a time that could have seen many programs take a significant step backward. As great as hosting the debate was for our institution, it also was impressive seeing our teams and staff responding in such a positive way to vacating their home for a significant period of time.
Looking toward the future, we are squarely focused on settling into our new conference homes for several sports. We are fortunate to be competing in The Summit League starting in the 2013-14 academic year and our coaches and teams are excited to begin play. We will have 11 of our 17 sports in one league, which is great for our institution. Additionally, the inaugural season for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will kick off, so we will do our part to ensure this new conference is well represented as we get to know our new partnering institutions.
What aspect of your tenure at DU are you most proud of?
Without a doubt our Pioneer Movement program has been a shining example of what can be accomplished when everyone is on the same page. We set the goal of 100% of our student-athletes and staff giving to the University’s annual fund and achieved it. As a result of the commitment our unit showed, we had donors and alumni step up to offer a match for some of what was committed, and in some cases it provided the impetus to attract donors for other projects.
As we approach our goal of 100% participation again this year, our Division understands that our student-athletes, coaches and administrators are making a choice to be a part of this program for the betterment of those who come next. Their willingness to contribute is not unlike the resolutions made by generous supporters to fund a new weight room, soccer stadium, recruiting lounge, student success center and numerous other projects. The Pioneer Movement initiative has generated an incredible amount of energy around giving that I believe will be sustained.
How has Win AD impacted the planning and the execution of goals for DU Athletics?
My staff has frequently heard me say “I don’t like to wing anything.” This philosophy requires that we continuously strive to be prepared and informed to the best of our ability. Win AD is a tool that helps us to have the most up-to-date information when we evaluate what the best actions may be for our Division.
What has been most beneficial is the diversity of the information available. Our Division has used it for hiring baselines, conference affiliation research, compensation baselines, contract reviews, corporate sponsorship agreements and much more. The information we are able to access helps to strengthen our strategic planning process, which certainly gives us the confidence, and peace of mind that the decisions we make are informed ones.