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Commentary: Loyola’s NCAA run should put pressure on Esteban, JLP

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Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

The DePaul University community is a Chicago community. If you walk around the Loop or Lincoln Park campus and ask students why they chose to become Blue Demons, they will likely say “the city.” After all, “The city is your campus” is one of DePaul’s favorite pitches to prospective students.    

That is why the DePaul community is genuinely happy for their neighbors, just a few stops north on the Red line. A win for Loyola is a win for Chicago — a city known across the globe for its rich basketball culture, even if it hasn’t seen a winning college program in well over a decade.

“Congratulations to Loyola and their success,” President A. Gabriel Esteban said. “It’s a great run and I think it’s great for the city of Chicago.”   

But we, the DePaul Blue Demons, can and should be that program. And that is why Loyola’s meteoric rise to NCAA fame should increase the pressure on Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and push President Esteban to make the changes necessary to bring DePaul men’s basketball into the winners circle.

“Am I supposed to ignore student athlete success in other sports all at the expense of men’s basketball?” Esteban said to The DePaulia when questioned about the state of the men’s basketball program and his support for Lenti Ponsetto.

Yes, Dr. Esteban, yes you are.

DePaul’s increasingly angry fan base is sick and tired of hearing this, frankly, stupid question. Men’s basketball — or football for schools with major football programs — should absolutely be the priority for any athletic department. Football and basketball are the sports that people care about and people watch.  All of that interest translates into potential revenue streams and helps to raise the academic profile of the institution.

“We always have to keep in mind that these are student-athletes not athlete-students,” Esteban said. “And sometimes I think we forget the student part (…) We’ve been retaining and graduating our student-athletes at rates that are higher than the national average. Having said that, I understand the desire for our, imparticular, men’s basketball program to be good.”

New day, same bullshit. 

In fairness to Lenti Ponsetto and Esteban, DePaul Athletics has to strike a balance between men’s basketball and all the other sports at DePaul.  But “balance” doesn’t mean “equal,” and some sports are worth categorically more to a university than others. To treat all of your sports the same is just ignorant — and I’m sure some golfers and volleyball players would agree. 

Lenti Ponsetto brought her program to the Big East — a “basketball first” conference —  to compete against the best and attract the most talented high school prospects looking to play in a league worthy of national exposure. 

Now Loyola is making noise from the comfortable confines of the Missouri Valley Conference — not a conference built to attract the nations most elite talent.

But the Ramblers got it done anyway.  They went out and bought themselves a hungry, young head coach and created a culture worthy of big wins on a national stage.

A mid-sized Catholic university from a mid-tier conference that the nation forgot about in 1964 just ousted DePaul as Chicago’s college basketball team and we should all be alarmed. If losing a city worth of potential fans doesn’t force change, nothing will. 

15 Comments

15 Responses to “Commentary: Loyola’s NCAA run should put pressure on Esteban, JLP”

  1. Change At DPU on April 2nd, 2018 7:34 am

    Wow. “Gullible” Gabe Esteban comes out in support of failing Athletic Director “Queen” Jean Lenti Ponsetto. We’ll see you Wednesday night for the Alumni & Friends Reception at the Park Ridge Country Club at 6 PM, President Esteban. I look forward to you telling a bunch of perspective donors you’re going to kick this can down the road. Awful move by “Gullible” Gabe.

    [Reply]

    GSH Reply:

    Love this.

    [Reply]

  2. Anonymous on April 2nd, 2018 8:08 am

    I disagree with a lot in this article. It’s a popular opinion to hate on DePaul men’s basketball right now because of Loyola’s success. What people don’t realize is this was one of the best DePaul teams they’ve had in years and is only trending up.

    A good young coach? Porter Moser is 49. Also YES, let’s compare DePaul to Loyola. Porter Moser’s first winning conference record was THIS YEAR. They preached patience and had faith in him when they were losing in his earlier years. If fans weren’t so hard headed, maybe they would see that DePaul is trying to follow the same model.

    [Reply]

    GSH Reply:

    Go sell that tired crap someplace else.

    I have a bridge to sell you if interested.

    [Reply]

    DIBS Reply:

    The #FireJLP movement started way before Loyola’s NCAA run.

    [Reply]

    Jose Reply:

    How long did it take to turnaround the Loyola basketball program? If DePaul is following the same model, I’ve wouldn’t be having this conversation

    [Reply]

    JB Reply:

    This comment is just a joke. Recruiting is a disaster, the team on the floor looks poorly coached, and players are jumping ship from the program. Get real.

    [Reply]

    Rnat Reply:

    This being their best record in years means absolutely nothing when you are comparing to 3 win seasons. In my 4 years at DePaul from 07-11 they won a combined 3 conference games. They have gotten no closer to the tournament since then. Zero players have even whiffed an NBA tryout.

    They hired Jerry Wainwright on the grounds that he helped recruit Tim Duncan to Wake Forest.

    They hired Oliver Purnell over Steve Lavin in 2010. Purnell had one tourney appearance at Clemson and Lavin had 5 Sweet 15s under his belt.

    And when Purnell was no good, they re-hired the guy who left 10 years prior in Dave Leitao.

    Theyve gone 100-217 in the last 10 years and you’re trying to say they are following the Loyola model??

    Trending up? The last time they were even close to relevant was well before “trending topic” was even in the American lexicon.

    [Reply]

  3. GSH on April 2nd, 2018 8:16 am

    That Esteban quote disgusts me. Epic disappointment.

    Not a native Chicagoan, with a woefully incomplete frame of reference—obviously. With that attitude, I think that Dr. Esteban would be a better fit at a crummy mid-major school. A college in a sleepier place with low expectations. Couldn’t be a school with aspirations to elevate their profile through the most obvious, profitable, school pride producing tool at their disposal either.

    DePaul’s entrance standards suck and we were already trailing Loyola in that regard for no good reason. Ranked below them, higher acceptance rates, etc. Imagine the impact this tournament push will have on Loyola, financially and academically. And the pride and loyalty it’s engendered.?

    I don’t know how he was offered a permanent role as President at Seton Hall. But I do know that New Jersey cares about Seton Hall basketball and they have legendary ex coaches and ones that populate the airwaves (Bill Raftery, PJ Carlisimo, etc.). The Jersey City-Newark area has great High School basketball and talent….and great traditions. Queen Jean’s (who apparently runs our alma mater) hires get fired after abject faikure and leave the business! They weren’t sought after by anyone when she hired them and they are no longer patrolling the sidelines.

    I hope Esteban spoke to administrators or lawyers that assurred him that they’ve gathered backdated conflict of interest disclosure forms. Otherwise he’s just created a huge credability problem for himself.

    And of course there was a conflict of interest. Whether it’s legal or not isn’t the issue. Wintrust got a seat at the table and preferential treatment as a direct result of Lenti Ponsetto’s clout and manipulation of DePaul University. It stinks and it’s never ending. And there’s been fraud in the inducement somewhere with regard to the financing and naming rights deal. 9500. Please.

    The board chose Esteban, approved these deadbeat coaching hires and retains Queen Jean. It’s her fifedom, we just have to live in it.

    [Reply]

    Mediocrity Reply:

    Also, Ponsetto saying that DePaul does things the right way with their student athletes, and that the men’s basketball program is not the “junior NBA” is a laughable comment at best. Is she implying that Villanova, Marquette, Xavier, Seton Hall, etc don’t do things the “right” way? What about Loyola? JLP’s excuses are just as offensive as her results. Fire Ponsetto. My six season tickets will be dropped unless a change is made. I hope all other season ticket holders cancel their tickets as well.

    [Reply]

  4. DemonMan82 on April 2nd, 2018 10:35 am

    Can’t wait to see the toll this will take on tickets next year ! Keep digging DePaul, you haven’t hit the floor quite yet…..but you are getting close.

    [Reply]

    Change At DPU Reply:

    Exactly this. How in good faith could you spend your hard earned money purchasing tickets to DePaul events or making a donation to the University if this is the bed that they’re making? Wintrust Arena will be a ghost town next season. Can’t wait until Jean Lenti Ponsetto blames the fans for not showing up when the Chicago media starts asking why a tax-payer funded arena sits empty. God forbid Queen Jean takes any accountability.

    [Reply]

  5. Mediocrity on April 2nd, 2018 1:29 pm

    Also, Ponsetto saying that DePaul does things the right way with their student athletes, and that the men’s basketball program is not the “junior NBA” is a laughable comment at best. Is she implying that Villanova, Marquette, Xavier, Seton Hall, etc don’t do things the “right” way? What about Loyola? JLP’s excuses are just as offensive as her results. Fire Ponsetto. My six season tickets will be dropped unless a change is made. I hope all other season ticket holders cancel their tickets as well.

    [Reply]

    GSH Reply:

    The other teams in the Big East would be pissed if DePaul were a threat in the slightest way. So they aren’t. An add campaign designed to rationalize the failure of an Athletic Director. Gotcha.

    Instead DePaul represents a problem for tbe BE, whose memebers could never have inagined what a colossal failure they’d become. The only ones who seem content are the one drawing salaries from the university. The customers can go pound sand until Queen Jean is damn good and ready to leave.

    [Reply]

  6. tim on April 5th, 2018 5:13 pm

    The time has come for DePaul to get a successful Men’s basketball.

    [Reply]

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Commentary: Loyola’s NCAA run should put pressure on Esteban, JLP