The DePaulia

Filed under Opinions

Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






We write this letter with both pride and passion—pride in the accomplishments and quality of the athletics program as a whole and passion in response to what we believe is a disproportionate amount of accusations, negativity and reliance on questionable sources that have appeared in The DePaulia in recent weeks. While the Men’s Basketball program is the most visible of the fifteen intercollegiate programs, the entirety of the athletic program should be considered when assessing the Athletic Department and the Athletic Director, Jean Lenti Ponsetto. As Chair of the University Athletic Board and Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA for DePaul University, we respectfully write this letter as a voice for those who support Jean Lenti Ponsetto. We base our position on an understanding of the complexity of Division I Men’s Basketball, the specific issues surrounding DePaul University Athletics, and the role of the Athletic Director and her accomplishments.

As Athletic Director, Jean Lenti Ponsetto has elevated the level of visibility and competition for the entire Athletic Department, including the Men’s Basketball program. Her individual accomplishments include:

  • During Jean Lenti Ponsetto’s tenure, fourteen of the fifteen programs have represented the school in NCAA championships, including four men’s basketball appearances (one NCAA and three NIT); sixteen consecutive NCAA appearances by the Women’s Basketball team; two trips to the Women’s Collegiate World Series in Softball; and trips to the NCAA Tournament by the Men’s and Women’s Soccer Programs after winning Big East Conference regular season titles. The Women’s Basketball and Softball Programs are perennial national contenders.
  • In the 2016–-2017 academic year, the Blue Demons lead the Big East Conference with six team championships.  DePaul had never before captured six conference championships in a single season, and led the league in titles per sports played.
  • Academically, DePaul has led the Big East Conference in team academic awards for seven consecutive years.
  • A DePaul record total of 170 student-athletes were named to the Big East All-Academic Team for 2016–17, with a cumulative GPA of 3.45.
  • The goals for our Men’s Basketball program are to win games in non-conference competition as well as in the Big East Conference and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Our Men’s Basketball program has improved in its third season under Coach Dave Leitao. Obviously, we all want more wins than losses. In this past season, the team had nine games that either went into overtime or were decided by five points or less with a 1-8 record in those games. Additionally, twelve games were decided by single-digit differences, with a 2-10 record in those games. With games this close, a change or two in possession leads would have easily resulted in a more desirable overall win-loss record for the season.
  • Fundraising for athletics is at an all-time high, including an increase from 12 endowed scholarships in 2007 to the current mark of 43. Additionally, fundraising has supported new facilities for softball (Cacciatore Stadium), men’s and women’s soccer (Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium), men’s golf (Ruffled Feathers Golf Club), men’s and women’s tennis (Lakeshore Athletic Club), men’s and women’s outdoor track and field (Lane Tech Stadium), and men’s and women’s basketball (Wintrust Arena). Cacciatore Stadium also serves the university and local communities for intramural athletics and education courses.
  • Jean Lenti Ponsetto currently serves on the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Board of Directors as Third Vice-President and is scheduled to be the NACDA’s President in 2021.
  • She has served the NCAA as a member of the Division I Men’s Basketball Academic Enhancement Group and Basketball Officiating Committee. Her knowledge in both men’s and women’s basketball circles is well respected.
  • She was selected to represent the Big East Conference in the NCAA’s new governance structure, the NCAA Council that manages the day-to-day issues facing the Division 1 membership. Currently, she is serving as Vice Chair of the Council following a two-year term as chair of the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee.
  • Among numerous honors, Jean Lenti Ponsetto was awarded the 2015–16 Under Armour AD of the Year Award by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).  She was awarded the same honor in 2008–09.

These achievements and accomplishments are the result of the efforts of many—our student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, athletic academic advisors, University administration and, of course, our faculty and University staff.  We acknowledge that many of these achievements are a team effort. However, the climate and tone have been established first and foremost by our Athletic Director, whose leadership is well documented.

We would be remiss if our letter didn’t include our analysis and concomitant response to the article “Athletic Director’s relative played key role in Wintrust agreements,” The DePaulia, March 12, 2018. The account attempts to create an aura of wrongdoing on the part of Jean Lenti Ponsetto and her sister-in-law. Specifically, it suggests that their relationship somehow influenced the decision to award the naming rights to the new arena to the Wintrust Bank. It is an erroneous premise to surmise that two major institutions with some of the nation’s most distinguished business leaders on their respective Boards of Directors would not employ the best business practices of their industry in negotiating both the naming rights and banking partnership deals. The article relies upon questionable sources for what is clearly not first-hand information.

That said, students, faculty, staff alumni and friends of DePaul should know the facts:

  • The University’s plan to cover the annual operating cost of the arena through fundraising, ticket sales and naming rights has been achieved and the project is performing in line with projections- thanks to the hard work of the athletics staff and coaches under the leadership of Jean Lenti Ponsetto.
  • The University hired a sports marketing firm that specializes in naming rights to determine the fair-market value of the new arena’s naming rights and to prospect potential partners. DePaul received fair-market value and did not provide any discount for the naming rights for Wintrust Arena.
  • Jeff Bethke, EVP/CFO, was the University’s chief negotiator and served at the direction of DePaul’s President and Board of Trustees to negotiate both the naming rights and the banking partnership.
  • Jean Lenti Ponsetto was called upon by Jeff Bethke to share her expertise relative to the marketing inventory of the deal.     
  • While Jean Lenti Ponsetto was not required to complete a conflict of interest form, as she was neither the decision maker nor the negotiator, she did so to document her sister-in-law’s relationship with Wintrust and be and provide complete transparency.
  • The news article’s authors offer an anonymous source in an attempt to establish how “involved” Jean Lenti Ponsetto and Mrs. Lenti were in many aspects of the naming rights negotiation. We would like to offer at this point that we believe that it is very likely that the insights of both women were indeed considered as valuable on both sides of the negotiation given their expertise in their respective areas, but those insights do not constitute a conflict of interest. Neither of them were the decision maker or the negotiator for their respective institutions. Again, DePaul and Wintrust Bank are major institutions both of whom execute best business practices at the CEO and CFO levels of their enterprises. This was a major deal that was executed at those levels.
  • In summary, the facts are that Jean Lenti Ponsetto’s stellar leadership has led to Athletic Department accomplishments that surpass all of her DePaul predecessors combined in overall athletic success, academic success, fundraising, facilities constructed, athletic scholarships endowed, television exposure and revenues generated and her own accomplishments in national leadership positions held, honors earned for her contributions and service on a national level and in leadership in the formation of the Big East Conference, one of the best NCAA Division 1 conferences in the country are superlative in intercollegiate athletics and have benefitted the DePaul athletics program in honor and prestige.

For these reasons, we feel compelled to provide a more balanced picture of the successes of both our athletics program and the role our Athletics Director has played in achieving success.

27 Comments

27 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves”

  1. Dr. Anna Marie Frank-College of Education on April 9th, 2018 9:15 am

    Readers, This was the email that was sent to The DePaulia along with the letter to clarify who the writers were representing. We think it is important to include.

    I am sending this letter, along with my colleague, Dr. John McEnroe, to The DePaulia in response to the articles we cite in our letter criticizing Jean Lenti Ponsetto, the Athletic Director of DePaul University. Our proper titles are in the letter, Dr. Anna Marie Frank, Chair, University Athletic Board and Associate Professor, College of Education and Dr. John McEnroe, Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA and Professor of Accountancy & MIS. We wish to make it explicit to all the readers that we are both faculty members who were originally nominated to serve on the University Athletic Board by the Faculty Council and subsequently approved by the President of DePaul University at the time of our respective nominations. We also want to establish that these opinions represent our voices alone, and do not purport to extend to any other parties, including Faculty Council or the University Athletic Board.

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Class of '93 College of Commerce Reply:

    So what your saying to us Anna and John is that you have close to ties to the Athletic Department. Got it. Thanks for the propaganda.

    Oh and will the University be providing the financials tied to this comment or should we just take your collective word for it? … The University’s plan to cover the annual operating cost of the arena through fundraising, ticket sales and naming rights has been achieved and the project is performing in line with projections

    [Reply]

    DePaulBlueDemon Reply:

    So the University Athletic Board is not embarrassed that the men’s basketball program is the LITERAL (I must emphasize LITERAL) laughing stock of D1 basketball? Just Google what the media has had to say about the state of the program for the last decade. It will make you blush with embarrassment for DePaul, or at least it should.

    The DePaul Athletic Department claims they have the student-athletes best interests in mind. However, our men’s basketball team has not been given the resources they need to succeed as athletes. They do not have the best coaching staff and JLP hired or approved these hires herself.

    I don’t support any viritol geared towards Jean Lenti Ponsetto, but she must act to fix this issue. The fans are not impressed by the Wintrust Arena. I’m tired of basically sitting alone at games, hearing the squeaks of sneakers on the court and the echoes of the security guards as they pace back and forth out of sheer boredom because no one is attending the games. The attendance statistics speak for themselves.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Anna Marie Frank Reply:

    My comments do not speak for the entire University Athletic Board. In the first comment I share the email that was sent to The DePaulia, but they did not include it. I want to clarify that.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    This list of so called “accomplishments” is entirely misleading. This is called doing your job and should be the expectation within DePaul athletics.

    [Reply]

    Brian Reply:

    Love it when academics with Ph.D.s demand the Dr. prefix. Those are for M.D.s and most media outlet style guidelines, such as those from Associated Press, follow accordingly. Sorry professors.

    [Reply]

  2. DIBS on April 9th, 2018 11:49 am

    A successfull flagship program will help every athletics program under the DePaul umbrella. Having a terrible – and one of the worst high major D1 men’s basketball program in the nation – is actually a disservice to Athletes at DePaul. Compare other Big East schools are we are near the bottom of a lot of sports, not just men’s basketball.

    Get out of the Big East if academics are the #1 priority.

    Get out of the Big East because leadership doesn’t care about our flagship program.

    If this were about academics only we’d be in a conference similar to Loyola’s size.

    You don’t build a $80 million dollar arena and then hide behind academics.

    DePaul wants to make money, the board of trustees want to make money. DePaul wants to significantly increase their endowment. DePaul’s tuition has increased nearly DOUBLE since I graduated, and I’m a fairly recent grad.

    Stop hiding behind academics. Because at the end of the day, DePaul is a private university and $ runs the game.

    There’s a reason why we have a new president. He’s a numbers first guy.

    Expect a complete athletics overhaul the next few years. It is completely unacceptable how far the men’s basketball program has fallen. We aren’t asking for championships – because the fanbase is defeated – we’re asking for a decent competitive record, and Jean Lenti Ponsetto has failed 11 years in a row. Every other big east school would have let their athletic director go years ago.

    [Reply]

  3. Robert on April 9th, 2018 12:07 pm

    Close losses are losses, close wins are wins. The record of the mens basketball team over the last 11 years hasn’t just been mediocre, hasn’t just been somewhat competitive. It has been plain and simple an embarrassment and humiliation to those who play and those who support . No other way to put it. the school has invested millions upon millions of dollars into the program in facilities, coaching salaries, and resources. The school receives millions of dollars from their Big East affiliation through ticket sales, television contract sharing distribution , NCAA tournament sharing and merchandising. The Big East plays it men’s basketball tournament to sold out crowds at Madison Square Garden, the mecca of sports arenas in the mecca of media in the US. The Big East exists because of its men’s basketball programs.. To spin it any other way is an attempt to diminish its importance with regard to why the conference does indeed exist. This has not been a blip on the screen this has been more than a decade of futility. Jean lenti Ponsetto has been the only constant during this time. The programs of success you speak of were in many cases successful prior to her elevation as Athletic Director. You can choose to support her we choose to agree to disagree and will not support the program until change is made ,end of discussion

    [Reply]

    GSH Reply:

    The Big East Conference DOES INDEED owe it’s existence to MEN’S Basketball. And DePaul’s lucky to be a member. DePaul’s academic achievements for their jocks doesn’t do much for anyone. To be associated with Georgetown and Villanova is an honor, given our relative postion on the academic spectrum. Stanford and Duke have superior athletic programs. DePaul is a joke compared to them—academically and otherwise, but DePaul should be allowed to hide behind the GPA’s of a relative handful of students while the rest of the university and community suffers?

    Laughably biased input by employees of the university. Maybe that’s another story.

    [Reply]

  4. CPA on April 9th, 2018 12:36 pm

    This is embarrassing. As an accounting major at DPU, I’m glad I never had you Prof McEnroe. This letter illustrates how little you understand about business and how flagship programs can help elevate other areas of the university. if you spent less time supporting JLP and more time learning how a business operates, you might be able to see the frustration level of fans and alum. Strobel students are at a disservice learning from you.

    [Reply]

  5. Hank Scorpio on April 9th, 2018 12:41 pm

    This letter cites the false and exaggerated claims that JLP herself loves to tout.

    If we are “competing for championships,” would someone like to answer how many titles DePaul athletics teams have competed for…ever?

    The answer outside of men’s basketball is zero. Lenti’s softball track record makes us a middle of the road program. Bruno has done a wonderful job with women’s basketball, but in reality, that is the only consistently competitive team we have fielded. Some of our sports, like men’s basketball and men’s soccer, have been a complete joke for 10+ years.

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce Reply:

    Hank, the answer is none.

    Your other points well taken and understood by alumni who have no fight in this game other than seeing what a vibrant and successful MBB program can do for this university that we love or at least, loved at one point in our lives.

    [Reply]

  6. Concerned Alumni; Class of 1995 on April 9th, 2018 1:07 pm

    This is the most one-sided, TASS-like propaganda piece I’ve ever seen. Did you just cut and paste her bio?

    In order . . .

    1. The MBB team is not only the most visible, it’s the only one Alumni care about, for the most part. Yes, Bruno and E Lenti have built great programs but they were there before she was the AD. Eug took his team to the Final Four in the late 90s. Bruno has a great program; however, with no football, baseball or hockey team, MBB is the most important part of the brand by miles.

    2. The other sports will thrive – and more so – with a successful MBB program

    3. The close loss argument is utter BS. Take away the close wins, too because those could have been losses. Losses are losses. One person got a green jacket yesterday. The rest lost. The goal should be the Final Four. That is the pinnacle. You don’t start climbing a mountain and ask the sherpa to get you to the middle. You aim for the highest peak. You cannot measure success by just competing.

    4. Research the Under Armour award before you cut and paste. The only programs eligible were UA schools. That, the boards, the committees, etc. . . . . EVERY AD has those to his or her credit. We don’t care about this fluff nonsense. It’s pathetic what counts for success around here. Of course she gets awards . . . our rivals all want her to stay so they have a win or two each year where it counts.

    5., The list of “major institutions” with failed practices in recent memory . . . to name a few: Baylor. Michigan State. North Carolina. SMU. Penn State. Michigan. Memphis. Louisville. Miami. Don’t think we’re above anything. The one bank in the city that deal goes to and her sis-in-law is a part of it? It stinks to high heaven and the optics are terrible.

    Bill Bradshaw was 10x the AD she is. He fired Meyer, broke ties with the overrated past, hired Kenneday and DL1. She has been an unmitigated failure.

    [Reply]

  7. Dan on April 9th, 2018 1:47 pm

    What a horrible response. Close losses, getting better under Leito? What about all the transfers? This leadership has no clue. Heads in the sand and bowing at the feet of such a bad AD. Well I guess we know that they could care less about basketball. So the only thing to hope for is the investigation? They’ll probably extend her and Leito!! Such a dumpster fire!! Shameful!!

    [Reply]

  8. Concerned Alumni; Class of 1995 on April 9th, 2018 1:49 pm

    The other 27 winners of the 2016 AD award . . . perhaps not all UA schools but when 27 others “win”, this is a marketing ploy, not a real award. And . . . nobody cares.

    Gary Barta University of Iowa
    Jim Phillips Northwestern University
    Scott Stricklin Mississippi State University
    Jim Sterk San Diego State University

    Thorr Bjorn University of Rhode Island
    Dave Blank Elon University
    Bill Chaves Eastern Washington University
    Brad Teague University of Central Arkansas

    Bob Driscoll Providence College
    Irma Garcia St. Francis College (N.Y.)

    Jim Paquette Loyola University (MD)

    Bill Fusco Sonoma State University
    Jerry Hughes University of Central Missouri
    Lindsay Reeves University of North Georgia
    Brian Swanson Cal Poly Pomona

    Jason Fein Drew University
    Josh MacArthur Babson College
    Howard Patterson University of Texas at Tyler
    Dawn Stewart Otterbein University

    Mark DeMichael Indiana Wesleyan University
    Gary Newsome Olivet Nazarene University
    Matt Sayre Southern Oregon University
    Ashley Walyuchow University of Houston Victoria

    Gary Broadhurst Mohawk Valley Community College
    Ron Case Rowan College at Gloucester County
    Marci Henry Northeastern Junior College
    Kulwant Singh De Anza College

    [Reply]

    DePaulBlueDemon Reply:

    There are some FINE institutions on this list, sir!

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce Reply:

    Yes, they are but you miss the point , the “award”is watered down. That’s the point. Now argue that!!!

    [Reply]

    DePaulBlueDemon Reply:

    I was being sarcastic.

  9. DIBS on April 9th, 2018 2:50 pm

    Another thing, Anna Marie Frank teaches AN ETHICS course PE 460 Ethic and Diversity in Sport, Fitness and Recreation

    Hilarious since DePaul is under NCAA investigation

    She has zero credentials on how to run a D1 program.

    https://education.depaul.edu/faculty-and-staff/faculty/Pages/anna-marie-frank.aspx

    [Reply]

  10. GSH on April 9th, 2018 3:11 pm

    It’s as though this defense came from children with input from the PR department. Anyone who’s been passionately opposed to Lenti-Ponsetto have already read, know and eyeroll when this unimportant propoganda is regurgitated. So this is going out to current students who’ve had little or no experience in business. And it’s co-author training these same people before they’re thrown to the wolves—and in accountacy no less!! If something strikes the IRS as odd/fishy (Wintrust)? You’ll be audited, potentially harrassed for years.

    I’ve been a stockbroker for almost 23 years. If I’d been correct only 18% of the time for my largest investors, how long do you suppose I’d keep my investors and job? 11 years with automatons behind me saying “well he’s been close…and he coach’s Little League.”? No.

    Here’s hoping that more students wear big boy pants than the fairy dust indoctrinators whose philosophies and worldviews they’re forced to listen to.

    Attn: DePaul Students

    This is not how the real world works. This is ineptitude, nepotism and cronyism like only exists in Chicago Machine politics. And you’re paying them to insult you.

    Demand respect and accountabity. You’re worth it.

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce Reply:

    This is why DePaul’s academic reputation continues to lag. Those of us lucky to land jobs where we can demonstrate critical thinking skills is lucky for us.

    [Reply]

  11. DON E DYBALA on April 9th, 2018 5:48 pm

    John and Anna all we are asking is when will JLP and DePaul University fix the men basketball program. It has been 14 years since the men basketball program has gone to the NCAA tournament and 11 years since the basketball program has been competitive. When will JLP and Dr. Esteban fix the men basketball program. Currently we are not competitive in the Big East in men basketball. The men basketball program is the flagship program of the university.

    No doubt other sports at the university are doing well, but is it not important to get the men basketball program winning again. It should be a priority for the university.

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce Reply:

    Then shouldn’t we spend $80M USD on them since they’re in the same category?

    [Reply]

  12. Robert G on April 9th, 2018 9:25 pm

    I am not a sports fan and I truly don’t have an opinion about JLP. However, I’m not sure how it could be made more plain that alumni really only care about men’s basketball. I wish that weren’t the case, as the women’s basketball team, for example, is exceptional. As a student athlete who played a “lesser” sport, I already knew that men’s basketball was the only thing that mattered to people. I was fine with that. Nobody was ever whining or out of their mind enthusiastic about my sport. So, therefore, successes in other sports don’t ultimately matter if the men’s basketball team is sub par. Glad to hear of her successes, but they are not the successes that matter. It’s like getting an apple for perfect attendance. Good job, but not good enough. Lastly, having members of JLP’s advisory board defend her is cringe worthy. I believe they feel strongly about her, but it doesn’t help her case as a hand picked member of her board. It also reads as if she helped write it.

    [Reply]

    Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce Reply:

    But a good MBB program can bring in revenue that can only help the other sports. Whether it be post season appearances or massive attendance at games. I don’t care that the revenue be “only”utilized for MBB, I care that the university as a whole benefits. I want DePaul to succeed on every plane, academic and athletic. The Men’s Basketball Program, if successful, can afford more opportunities for everyone and that’s the pint that some myopic thinkers miss.

    [Reply]

  13. Mark Pudil Clas of ‘93 College of Commerce on April 9th, 2018 10:48 pm

    I said pint instead of point so for that, let’s raise a glass for the death of a once proud station of our university.

    [Reply]

  14. Enzo De Rose on April 9th, 2018 11:49 pm

    Well, I have often said that DePaul basketball could only be as bad as they are only if they tried to be. I guess I was right. With all the advantages we have/had, great conference, basketball as the flag ship program (no football), great high school talent within 100 miles of campus, great tradition . DePaul is proud of where they are, the laughing stock of D1 hoops. Fair enough. That’s the last straw for me until JLP is gone and a head coach that is seen as a potentially good hire is made because the last three, possibly 4 hires, have been mindboggling bad if winning was remotely the goal. Good night everyone.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    The opioid crisis finds itself in Suburbia, USA, and the silence around it is deadly

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Call me, maybe: The case for why phone calls are better than text messages

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    How ‘America’s Dad’ fell from public grace

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Our obsession with killers continues to distort our ability to separate the murders from the mugshot

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Left on read

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Don’t call Israel an apartheid state

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Open letter to the DePaul Board of Trustees: Make your investment profile public

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Not a death sentence: Why we need to change the way we talk to cancer patients

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Kanye West’s pro-Trump views don’t add up

  • Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves

    Opinions

    Puff puff pass – in class?: How vapes are changing the futures of teenagers

The Student News Site of DePaul University
Letter to the Editor: Lenti Ponsetto’s accomplishments speak for themselves