COLUMN: DePaul is more than men’s basketball – it’s not the end of the world if they lose

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Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

DePaul head coach Dave Leitao paces the sidelines against Creighton on Wednesday at Wintrust Arena.

Successful college basketball programs are part of a university’s fabric. They help drive higher enrollment, donations and make students and the fan base feel proud of their school.

But how far is too far? How much is too much? And should any men’s college basketball program, successful or not, be the focal point of a university for too long?

The honest answer is no. Yes, it’s important that the men’s basketball program is relevant in its own community –– especially if it’s a university’s flagship program. But that should not take away the focus from other successful athletic programs, and also should not diminish the other good parts of a university. 

DePaul is the perfect example in this case, as its men’s basketball program has been struggling since George W. Bush’s first presidential term. The program has obviously seen its fan base decrease with each passing season, but there is still a large group that cares and wants to see this program succeed. 

After a DePaul game, Twitter is filled with fans complaining about another loss that continues to show how far the program has fallen. But is it that deep? Should there always be an overreaction to every loss? 

No. Fans have no control over the final outcome, and a loss in January shouldn’t bring out a host of negative tweets. It’s not like DePaul fans haven’t seen similar results for the past 17 years, so what’s the difference with a loss in 2021 and one in 2010? 

However, it has been the women’s basketball program that has been the athletic department’s most successful and consistent programs since the turn of the century. They have made 17 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and have won six Big East regular season titles since 2013.

If people want to put all of their energy into a winning program, then tune into more of their games. And that’s not to say to forget about the men’s team, but it’s also not the end of the world when they lose a game. 

What about the rest of the athletic department? DePaul has a total of 13 varsity sports, so how about giving some of the other teams love? 

The softball team has actually been the Blue Demons’ second most successful program the last 20 years — especially the last four years, winning three consecutive Big East tournament championships. 

The two soccer teams have won Big East titles and made it to the NCAA Tournament multiple times, even if the last couple of seasons have resulted in fewer wins. 

But the point still stands that there are other teams at DePaul that shouldn’t be forgotten.

And if you aren’t a sports fan, or don’t pay as much attention to DePaul athletics, then there are areas at the university that might interest you. 

DePaul has a theater school that can use more support from students and alumni. DePaul also has an art museum on Fullerton Avenue that is constantly updated and offers new exhibits every couple of months. 

DePaul offers much more than just its men’s basketball program, even if it’s vital to so much of the university’s status. But a vibrant school goes beyond just one area — it encompasses everything that makes them great and attractive for students. 

One of DePaul’s best qualities, and maybe its most underappreciated, is that it’s located in the middle of Chicago and offers students with a lot to do outside of Lincoln Park. 

So, stress as much as you would like about the men’s basketball program, and maybe one day it will return to its former glory days. But DePaul also offers a lot more than just one team.

Let’s start paying attention to those aspects a little bit more from now.