Letter to the editor: From an angry, embarrassed alum


DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto in 2014. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

This submission does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the DePaulia staff.

As an alum, I am angry and embarrassed. 

As I would normally stand proud wearing a DePaul hat, shirt, or hoodie, now I would not, as it represents something other than Vincentian views, something other than an education I’m proud of. To me, it represents corruption, unethical behavior, and losing. 

What makes me angry is not that any of this happened, it’s because many, including me, have been saying for years that stuff is happening and it falls on deaf ears. I’m angry that when something like this happens, we hear nothing from the leadership of DePaul. I grew up a DePaul fan. I got two degrees from the university and loved every second I was there. DePaul was respected. DePaul had a strong, proud name. So what changed DePaul? When did you lose your way?

Part of the answer is Jean Lenti-Ponsetto. Have you noticed that most of the negative news and controversies stemming from DePaul University involve Jean Lenti-Ponsetto somehow? Think about it: (1) the rape allegations back in 2014, which were dismissed and never spoken of again, involved the athletic department, (2) the Wintrust deal, both for naming rights and banking opportunities, involved herself and her sister-in-law, who profited from this deal, (3) the firing of Rick Carter, which resulted in an order-of-protection, which you never see, (4) the FBI investigations in college basketball, with two coaches from DePaul mentioned, (5) her remarks that were mentioned so many times on the radio that “we aren’t the junior NBA” and “fans don’t always care about winning,” and now (6) her own brother, who was her employee, being accused of abuse, both physical and mental, to his athletes and coaches, all of whom were women. These are stories only from the past 5 or 6 years. How on Earth does she still have a job today? How on Earth has she not been suspended from her current position today while an external investigation happens regarding her brother Eugene? How on Earth does President Esteban not even acknowledge this?

 Let us assume all the allegations and controversies have no merit. Since 2003, has she done her job? Has she taken what former Athletics Director Bill Bradshaw gave her and made it better? I would argue no. The two most successful programs during the Lenti-Ponsetto regime are women’s basketball and softball, both of which have been on autopilot for decades — she didn’t have to do a thing. All others have been questionable, especially DePaul’s flagship program, and only true money-generating program, men’s basketball. Here are some eye-opening facts: (1) DePaul has been playing basketball for almost 100 years, since 1923. Their total record is 1,493-1,048. (2) In just 18 years, during the Lenti-Ponsetto era, DePaul has lost 332 games. Over 31% of our losses have happened in just the last 18 years!  (3) 10 of those 18 years have resulted in last place finishes in the conference. 

I also saw DePaul Athletics from a different angle, as a coach. I was an AAU coach for years, having several players who received scholarships from DePaul. What I saw is a program behind the times and in disarray. DePaul would send letters to my players that weren’t in DePaul envelopes and did not even have DePaul mentioned in the note. DePaul drove an hour in the early AM to the far southwest suburbs to see my player, only to get there before the school opened, so the coach told a janitor to tell my player “DePaul was here.” I had DePaul send my 7’2” center a letter going over changes to NCAA rules regarding college hockey. These are just a few examples of how much disarray there was from my perspective. All this was brought to Jean Lenti-Ponsetto’s attention, both via email on March 17, 2013, and in a personal meeting on March 28, 2013, along with Oliver Purnell. I asked that the meeting be kept confidential, as I had to work with the staff moving forward, and both agreed, but found out years later while Coach Purnell kept his promise, Lenti-Ponsetto did not, sharing information with an assistant. Also, nothing changed. Talking with other college coaches throughout the country, they all see DePaul as a potential good job, however none would work for Lenti-Ponsetto.

This latest controversy could have been prevented, if the university kept their eyes and ears open, had some common sense, and practiced Catholic and Vincentian values. But none of that happened, and here we are, digging ourselves in a bigger hole, possibly too deep to get out of anytime soon. And here is DePaul, keeping quiet, and allowing Jean to talk about her contract, and when she feels the time is right, she will talk to President Esteban and make a decision to retire. Who is the true leader here? 

I’ll leave you with this thought: If a student is constantly failing classes, DePaul kicks him out of school, even if they are still willing to pay. If a professor fails to effectively teach a class, the teacher will be asked to leave, or removed. So why, DePaul, do you, continue to employ someone surrounded by failure and controversy, and allow her to run this proud university into the ground? 

I would like an answer, but I know DePaul’s M.O. is no comment.


Michael Ciepierski

B.S. Actuarial Science 2000

MBA. Finance/Economics 2002