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Peggy Bradley-Doppes: Growing Teamwork and Academic Success for the University

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When you first meet Peggy “Peg” Bradley-Doppes, the Athletic Director for the University of Denver, you sense an upbeat, engaging, down-to-earth, hardworking yet equally fun-loving and highly approachable individual. There is something strikingly familiar about Peg. Even though she holds a significant title and role with respect to the success of the University, she is someone who could easily be your next door neighbor, the one from whom you borrow a cup of sugar and share an hour of laughter with.

Peg’s impressive resume highlights a career peppered with one success story after another, but when you get to know her, you feel as if you could share personal stories about life, family and friends. In fact, during the interview for this article, she wanted to know more about me, suggesting that, yes, she loves to hear the stories of others and she will be the first to encourage, inspire and motivate. That commitment to applauding the success of those around her gives strong testament to the strength, overall growth and vitality of not just the athletic teams at the University, but of the school as a whole. She has fully embraced being a true University of Denver Pioneer!

Sports as a Way of Life

Not one to seek out the spotlight, Peg finds satisfaction in seeing the happiness and accomplishments of others, and even though she won’t sit out life on the sidelines, she will eagerly sit in W the stands to cheer on any and all of her teams. Personally and professionally, she is a true team player.

Since 2005, Peg has been at the helm of the school’s athletic department, but the world of athletics is certainly nothing new to her. As one of nine children growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Peg spent most of her childhood playing outside and was introduced to sports at a very young age. She honed her skills playing kickball, volleyball, softball and track. By the time she entered high school, she exhibited her natural athletic prowess in several sports and not surprisingly earned a college scholarship to play volleyball at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, where she received her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. Peg subsequently earned a master’s degree in the same discipline from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1981.

During the course of her career, Peg has been a highly successful head coach at Michigan, North Carolina (Wilmington) and Miami University, where, at just 21 years of age, she was the head softball and volleyball coach. “During the interview I told them I had never coached before,” Peg recalled. Evidently, that admission did not hinder the hiring manager’s vision of Peg’s potential. In an effort to be the best she could be, she studied and mimicked the behaviors of some of the most successful people within the coaching arena. “Some of the students I coached were actually older than I was,” noted Peg. “But I just remained honest and transparent with them.”

Leadership in Sports Achievement

Awards and accolades seem to follow Peg wherever she goes, including the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletics Director by the AllAmerican Football Foundation, and the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators honored her as Administrator of the Year in Division I-AAA (non-football programs). But Peg would much rather admire the awards mantel of the players who make her job so rewarding, and since she has been with the University, the athletic programs have gained tremendous and positive velocity in all areas.

Founded in 1864, the school celebrated its 150th anniversary last year and is currently home to roughly 5,000 undergraduate students and 5,000 graduate students. There are 17 competitive sports teams that have brought great prestige to the university. In the 2007-2008 school year, the Pioneers finished at an all-time best (at the time) at Number 47 in the U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup and were ranked number one among all I-AAA, Sun Belt Conference and Front Range institutions. At that time, the Coach of the Year award was presented to eight coaches and Peg was simultaneously named as the Astro Turf Athletic Director of the Year by NACDA.

For seven of the past eight years, the school has been recognized as having the top overall athletic program (sans football) and this year ranked 49th in the country among all Division I schools. Its lacrosse team nabbed a national championship last year, as did its skiing team in 2014. The Pioneers typically earn 9 to 12 conference titles a year, and Peg attributes such momentum and success to the quality of the university.

“We have great coaches and amazing athletes and students,” expressed Peg, who gives a strong nod toward the benefits of balancing an academic career with participation in sports.

Academic Success a Priority

“When students are involved in sports, they tend to become very disciplined; they learn to set goals, and many often graduate earlier with significantly higher GPAs than students who are not involved on a sports team,” explained Peg. That being said, though, academic success is a clear goal for each and every student. Not only does the entire staff want students to succeed on the field, but they also hope for–and expect– greatness within the academic arena. “It’s important that we do things right,” expressed Peg.

Since she first stepped onto the campus more than ten years ago, Peg has felt a strong sense of belonging and purpose, and she knows that this is where she is meant to be. “There is such a vision and energy about this place,” beamed Peg, with respect to the overall ambiance of the school. “Chancellor Rebecca Chopp and the Board of Trustees have truly made it an incredible time to be a Pioneer, and I am thrilled to be a part of this organization.”

Always an Athlete

When she’s not at work, Peg enjoys spending time with her husband, Gary, an IT consultant, and their 11-year-old son, Connor. Still true to her athletic self, Peg enjoys regular workouts at the school’s fitness center or just going out for a bike ride. She is the consummate multi-tasking professional, too. “I sometimes ride my stationary bike while I am on a conference call in my office,” she said. “I just put the phone on speaker and pedal away.”

Peg can barely contain her enthusiasm for the city of Denver, and she is in constant awe of its many entertainment options and endless outdoor appeal. “We love the people and vibrancy of the city,” noted Peg. “We enjoy being able to hike, ride bikes and camp as well as take advantage of all of the cultural events around town.”

Living close to the campus also affords Peg and her family the opportunity to attend as many athletic events at the school as possible. When she comes to the games, she expresses her true form as a proud and enthusiastic cheerleader.

“I am so blessed and extremely fortunate to work with such outstanding people,” smiled Peg. “We are all in this together and the respect goes both ways. In fact, the students call me Peg, and I make it a policy to always have my office door open. Our kids come first.” HLM

For more information on the University of Denver and its athletic programs, go online at or