Lenti Ponsetto proud of DePaul student-athletes’ continued academic success

DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponesetto praised the student-athletes for their academic success. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)
DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponesetto praised the student-athletes for their academic success. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

DePaul scored highly once again in the reveal of the 2013-2014 Academic Progress Rates (APR) with five sports reaching perfect scores and 12 out of the 15 reached past the NCAA average of 978.

The athletic department also had six sports recognized by the NCAA with the Public Recognition Award for posting multi-year APRs in the top ten percentile of each sport.

“I think for me and the team we’ve assembled in the athletic department, we really believe in the model that success starts on the academic side,” DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. “The work habits they have in the classroom really are transformative and are pretty much the same habits you see when it comes to athletic progress.”

Student-athletes earn one point for staying in school and then another for staying academically eligible. A team’s total points are then divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s APR. Schools can lose scholarships or face sanction, including loss of postseason play, if they dip below a certain threshold.

Women’s basketball, men’s cross country, golf, softball and women’s tennis all scored 1000 for the 2013-2014 year, which is one more sport recording a perfect total than the previous year. One of the sports that decreased was men’s basketball due to the transfer of DeJaun Marrero and the dismissal of Charles McKinney from the team in August. They went down from a score of 960 to 952.

Ponsetto credits the student-athletes with doing the heavy lifting with regards to balancing schoolwork and athletics, but also the coaching staff who she says encourages students to pursue any academic endeavor.

“I appreciate that when our coaches go out and recruit, they don’t tell them that they can’t major in this or they can’t major in that,” she said. “In fact, they encourage them to pursue what they have the strongest interest in academically.”

She also said that “winning” at academics is a large reward because of the purpose of academic institutions.

“People in athletics are criticized because they don’t win enough,” she said. “For me, the real evaluation is on the academic side because that’s what we do, it’s what academic institutions are supposed to do.”

She said that the success is particularly impressive due to the constraints imposed, not only due to student-athletes having hectic schedules with school and athletics, but also the burdens of facility restraints impacting schedules during the school year.

“We don’t have lighted outdoor fields, for example, and many sports have to work around a variety of other schedules to make practice work,” she said. “We’ve always made their academic coursework a high priority and have had to schedule from there.”

The success will come, Ponsetto said, in either field with the hard work she said the department revolves their philosophy around.

“On the academic side, you can win 100 percent of the time,” she said. “If you have the right work ethic, the intellectual capacity and are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work, you can be really successful at DePaul.”