DePaul officially launches process for hiring new athletic director

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Ryan Gilroy

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

When Jean Lenti Ponsetto announced on June 5 that she will be retiring this summer, President A. Gabriel Esteban promised to conduct a national search for a new athletic director. 

On Thursday, DePaul took the first steps of starting that search by forming a search committee and hiring DHR International — Glenn Sugiyama, managing partner and global sports practice leader — to help find candidates for the job. 

The search committee will be led by DePaul’s Chief of Staff Steve Stoute, and consists of six other members from the university. 

The other members include Dan Allen, vice president of advancement; Ron Caltabiano, dean of the School of Music; Avarie Evans-Allen, student-athlete; Ani Frank, associate professor in the College of Education and chair of the University Athletic Board; Kate O’Brien, associate athletic director for Academic Advising; and Liz Ortiz, vice president for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity. 

According to the release, the goal of the search committee is to provide Esteban with recommendations of candidates for the role. DePaul hopes to hire a new athletic director by the start of September, with Lenti Ponsetto agreeing to stay on in her role until a new person is hired.

DHR International is a global executive search firm that is located in Chicago. According to their website, they have a 12-week process when completing a search. 

The first three weeks include doing assessment and research, with the next three identifying and developing candidates. The next three weeks then includes qualifying candidates, which means continuing to recruit people and conducting referencing around critical components. And the final three weeks of the process includes selecting candidates and conducting interviews. 

For DePaul, this is the first time in 18 years they will have to hire a new athletic director. Lenti Ponsetto replaced Bill Bradshaw on July 1, 2002 and has been associated with the university for 46 years. She attended DePaul from 1974-78, while playing women’s basketball, volleyball, softball and tennis. 

Lenti Ponsetto also announced that she is currently in treatment for breast cancer, which she has previously beat two times. 

“The changing times over these past few months has led me to this decision,” Lenti Ponsetto said on June 5. “Having successfully battled two breast cancer diagnoses and currently in treatment for a third, I thought it was time to step away from the long days, working every weekend and the 24/7 demands that being an athletic director requires.

Lenti Ponsetto’s 18 years as athletic director has included moving DePaul into the Big East in 2005, moving from Allstate Arena to Wintrust Arena in 2017 and hiring three different men’s basketball head coaches. 

In 2018, a DePaulia investigation found out that Lenti Ponsetto never officially disclosed a conflict of interest form before engaging in a deal for the naming rights agreement for Wintrust Arena. 

On Tuesday, The DePaulia obtained a document of an amendment compliant to a lawsuit that was filed in April by sports psychologist Jenny Conviser — which alleged that former DePaul softball head coach Eugene Lenti had verbally and physically abused his players and an assistant coach. Lenti, who is also the brother of Lenti Ponsetto, retired after the 2018 season. He is now an assistant softball coach at Auburn University. 

The new complaint alleges that because Lenti Ponsetto is DePaul’s athletic director, Lenti was able to create an “abusive cult of personality.” Conviser also said that she was at the heart of taking on Lenti Ponsetto and taking down Lenti by having him eventually separated from DePaul for his abusive conduct to his players.