DePaul athletic department being investigated by NCAA: report

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On the tail of Loyola’s run to the Final Four, there’s trouble brewing in DePaul’s athletic department.

The NCAA reportedly is investigating DePaul for rules violations, according to the DePaulia, the school’s student-run newspaper.

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NCAA officials have been conducting interviews with current and past players and coaches, according to the report.

Details on the nature of the investigation and the conduct being investigated are not clear.

A university spokesperson couldn’t confirm or deny the investigation, citing the NCAA’s policy to keep its investigations confidential.

But the school released a statement, saying: “DePaul is committed to NCAA rules compliance and regularly provides educational programming for its student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff, and when appropriate self-reports rules violations and takes corrective action accordingly.”

An NCAA spokesperson wouldn’t comment when asked about the investigation. Doug Bakker, DePaul’s associate athletics director for compliance, was not available for comment.

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto has come under fire the last few months. Many students and alumni have made it clear they believe Ponsetto’s time with DePaul is up.

Ponsetto’s sister-in-law Kandace Lenti, the executive vice president at Wintrust Bank, played a key role in the multimillion-dollar naming-rights agreement for Wintrust Arena, the DePaulia has reported. Ponsetto failed to disclose a conflict-of-interest form before the deal was made, according to the report.

After the men’s basketball team ended an 11-20 season with a loss to Marquette in the Big East tournament last month, a group of “concerned students and alumni” purchased a full-page ad in the Sun-Times, calling on the university to fire Ponsetto.

“Fans and students are entitled to voice their opinions, but not everyone may agree with it,” a statement issued by the school said at the time. “Our men’s basketball team is a fine group of student-athletes who are terrific ambassadors for our university. All of our student-athletes make us proud every day with their many accomplishments — both in athletic competitions and in the classroom.”

After making 13 NCAA Tournament appearances in a 15-year span, DePaul has reached the tourney twice since 1992, most -recently in 2004.

The group of students and alumni claim Ponsetto is the one “common thread” for the program’s problems, including 11 losing seasons and 233 total losses.

Ponsetto has hired three coaches to lead the men’s team since she was named athletic director in 2002. In 2015, she rehired coach Dave Leitao, who has won 29 games in the last three seasons. In his first stint at DePaul from 2002 to ’05, Leitao went 58-34, reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2004.

Contributing: Steve Greenberg

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