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DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto announces her retirement

Ponsetto’s 18th year as athletic director at DePaul will be her last.

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto has spent 40 years as an administrator in the school’s athletic department.
DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto has spent 40 years as an administrator in the school’s athletic department.
Paul Beaty/AP

The greatest basketball player in school history called it “unimaginable” and unconscionable.”

“I would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind,’ ” Mark Aguirre told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2018.

He was referring to the ruinous state of the DePaul men’s basketball program, which hasn’t gotten any better in the two seasons since.

A complete and seemingly interminable flatlining of Blue Demons will be, in the minds of some current and former fans, at the top of the list of things remembered about Jean Lenti Ponsetto’s time as athletic director at the school.

Ponsetto’s 18th year as AD will be her last, the school announced Friday. She will remain in the role until a successor is hired, DePaul said in a statement posted on its website.

“Today is a bittersweet day for me and my husband, Joe,” Ponsetto said in a statement. “DePaul has been a part of our lives for the past 46 years. Our dearest and closest friends were teammates we began our student-athlete journeys with in 1974. It truly has been our privilege and the honor of a lifetime to serve DePaul as athletic -director.”

She said her health played a role in her decision to step away.

“The changing times over these past few months has led me to this decision.

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.”

Ponsetto, once a star athlete at DePaul, has spent 40 years as an administrator in the school’s athletic department, most notably leading a transition to the Big East conference in 2005. Several sports, especially women’s basketball, have seen much success on Ponsetto’s watch.

But she hired men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao — twice — and, for more than a decade, finishing at the bottom of the conference standings has been a formality.

DePaul is accused in a lawsuit of ignoring allegations that its former softball coach — Ponsetto’s brother, Eugene Lenti — punched an assistant in the face and verbally abused his players and retaliated against the whistleblower by terminating her contract with the school.

The school also is accused of violating Title IX rules for failing to report complaints made against Lenti, who is now an assistant at Auburn.