Cubs

DePaul extends A.D. Ponsetto through 2017

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DePaul extends A.D. Ponsetto through 2017

DePaul has extended the contract of athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto through 2017, the university announced Tuesday. That is an additional five years added onto her current contract.

"Jean Lenti Ponsetto is among the most respected athletics directors in the United States," DePaul President Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider said in a statement. "The NCAA, the Big East and other athletic conferences turn to her constantly for advice and counsel. ESPN, CBS and other networks turn to her to understand developments in collegiate athletics and recently she received the Trailblazer Award by NACWAA from her peers."

After representing the Blue Demons as a student-athlete, coach and administrator, Ponsetto became the athletics director on July 1, 2002. She is currently in her 38th years as a member of the athletics department.

In addition to helping the Blue Demons find numerous athletic achievements during her tenure, Ponsetto has led fundraising efforts that have raised over 13 million and created mroe than 25 endowed scholarships -- amounts that each rank as the highest for any athletics director in DePaul history.

Over her 10 years leading the DePaul athletic department, 14 of the 15 athletic programs have represented the school in NCAA championships. This includes: 10 straight NCAA appearances by the women's basketball team featuring two Sweet Sixteen appearances, two trips to the Women's softball College World Series, men's soccer's initial trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning the BIG EAST Conference regular season title, women's soccer's first NCAA appearance after winning a conference championship in 2003 and women's tennis earning its first berth to the NCAA Championship in 2010.

During her reign, 1,200 student-athletes have been named to conference academic honor rolls. Among the 15 universities in the Big East Conference, the Blue Demons led the way academically with a league-best five teams claiming the Big East Team Academic Excellence Award in each of the last two years. DePaul posted the top GPA in women's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis to earn the 2010-11 Big East academic honor prior to women's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, men's tennis and women's tennis in 2011-12. In the last four academic years, DePaul has had 21 programs earn the Big East Team Academic Excellence Award with a department-best seven teams in 2008-09.

Ponsetto was named one of the top 100 most influential women in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times (ranked No. 2 in the sports category behind Bears owner Virginia McCaskey) in 2004. She is a member of DePaul's Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.