Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire this summer


Ryan Gilroy

DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire this summer. Lenti Ponsetto has been DePaul’s AD since 2002.

DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto will be retiring this summer, a DePaul athletics spokesperson confirmed to The DePaulia Thursday night. 

Before becoming DePaul’s Athletics Director, Lenti Ponsetto was the school’s senior associate athletic director for seven years, 12 years as the associate director and two as an assistant director. 

Lenti Ponsetto has been DePaul’s AD since July 2002. She is a member of the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame and has been a fixture in the Blue Demon athletic community since she attended the school in the mid-1970s, where she played tennis, volleyball, softball and basketball.

Lenti Ponsetto’s first landmark move as athletics director was moving DePaul from Conference USA to the Big East in 2005. She also played an active role in the conference’s realignment in 2013, with seven members from the previous conference staying — DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova — and three new members being added — Butler, Creighton and Xavier. 

In 2010, the Cacciatore softball stadium was built, and Lenti Ponsetto has been responsible for renovations taking place at Wish Field and Cherry Family Indoor Track at the Ray Meyer Center. 

Lenti Ponsetto has also seen 14 of the 15 Blue Demon athletic programs qualify for the NCAA Tournament, including the women’s basketball team making the tournament the last 18 years. The school’s flagship team, the men’s basketball program, has only made the NCAA Tournament one time during her tenure in 2004.

Lenti Ponsetto was responsible for hiring three different men’s basketball head coaches since the 2004-05 season, Jerry Wainwright, Oliver Purnell and Dave Leitao. Both Wainwright and Purnell were fired after each having five seasons with the program, with Wainwright being ousted during the 2009-10 season and Purnell leaving in 2015.

Since 2015, however, Leitao has been the Blue Demons’ head coach and was awarded a four-year contract extension in April. During the last five years, DePaul has finished last in the Big East four straight years and have yet to notch a winning record through the end of the regular season. 

In April, a lawsuit was filed against former softball coach Eugene Lenti — also the brother of Lenti Ponsetto — alleging he verbally and physically abused his players and an assistant coach. Lenti retired in the summer of 2018 and is now an assistant coach at Auburn University. 

Lenti Ponsetto has yet to comment regarding the lawsuit and allegations regarding her brother. 

Under her tenure, DePaul went from playing its basketball games at Allstate Arena to Wintrust Arena in 2017. The Chief Marketing Officer from Wintrust Bank confirmed to The DePaulia in 2018 that Wintrust executive vice president and sister-in-law of Lenti Ponsetto, Kandace Lenti, was involved in the multi-million dollar Wintrust Arena in the naming rights agreement. 

DePaul officials also told The DePaulia that Lenti Ponsetto never officially disclosed a conflict of interest form before engaging in the deal. 

While the men’s basketball program has failed to get back to its old glory days under Lenti Ponsetto, the women’s basketball program has been the athletic department’s most successful team. Led by Head Coach Doug Bruno, the program has made the NCAA Tournament 18 straight years, won the Big East regular season title six times and captured the Big East Tournament title five times. 

The softball program has also made the Women’s College World Series twice. Both the men’s and women’s soccer programs have each made the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big East conference regular season titles.

The Blue Demons have also seen more than 1,400 student-athletes be named to the conference academic honor rolls in the last 18 years, with the golf team being academic national champions five times.

More information will be provided on Friday regarding Lenti Ponsetto’s retirement, according to a DePaul athletics spokesperson.