Dave Leitao

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto retiring after 18 years at helm

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USA TODAY

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto retiring after 18 years at helm

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto informed the university she will retire in the coming months after 18 years at the helm. 

"It truly has been our privilege and the honor of a lifetime to serve DePaul as athletic director and to witness the unprecedented growth from that  ‘little school under the el’ to its current world class University serving students from around the globe," Ponsetto said in a statement.

“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 has been a member of DePaul's athletic department since 1974, when she was a four-sport athlete (tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball). After graduating in 1978, she became DePaul's first assistant women's basketball coach. She later spent seven years as the senior associate athletic director before taking over as AD in 2002.

Ponsetto guided DePaul into the Big East from Conference USA in 2003 and helped organize the new Big East in 2013. She oversaw the development of Wintrust Arena, now home to the basketball teams after decades of playing at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

The women's team has made 17 straight NCAA tournaments under head coach Doug Bruno. The men's team hasn't made the tournament since 2004 and has just two winning seasons since (2006-07, 2018-19). Ponsetto has hired three coaches in that span: Jerry Wainwright, Oliver Purnell and Dave Leitao — who is in his second stint as head coach.

The NCAA put DePaul's men's basketball program on probation for three years last summer due to a recruiting violation, of one two controversies to surround the athletic department in recent years. In April, a sports psychologist formerly affiliated with DePaul filed a lawsuit claiming she was terminated after raising concerns of former softball coach Eugene Lenti's abusive behavior towards players. Lenti is Lenti Ponsetto's brother.

Ponsetto will stay in her role and assist DePaul in its transition to a new AD. The university plans to conduct a national search for her replacement this summer.

DePaul hands men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao extension through 2023-24

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USA TODAY

DePaul hands men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao extension through 2023-24

DePaul announced Thursday they’ve extended the contract of men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao through 2023-24. Terms weren’t disclosed.

“We are happy to reach an agreement to continue the improvement and stability that Coach Leitao has instilled in our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said in a press release. “His vision of academic excellence, athletic excellence and community service mirrors DePaul’s mission in developing outstanding student-athletes and future leaders in our society.”

Leitao just wrapped up his fifth season in his second go-around as DePaul’s head coach. The Blue Demons started off hot, going 12-1 in non-conference play while picking up wins over Iowa, Minnesota and Texas Tech.

They struggled mightily in Big East play, going 4-15 with wins over then-No. 5 Butler, and later Xavier in the Big East tournament, prior to it being canceled due to COVID-19.

Fans and alumni have grown increasingly restless as DePaul has failed to move up from the cellar of the Big East. They’re 64-98 overall the last five seasons, finishing last in conference three times. Their best finish came in 2018-19, when they went 7-11 and tied for eighth.

Last season, Leitao led DePaul to its first postseason berth since 2007, resulting in a second-place finish in the College Basketball Invitational tournament. 

Leitao has acquired some talented players the past few seasons, including transfers Max Strus (now a two-way guard/forward with the Bulls) and point guard Charlie Moore (formerly of Cal-Berkeley and Kansas). Forward Paul Reed is a potential 2020 NBA draft first-round pick. 

Leitao's 2019-20 recruiting class ranked 34th nationally, according to 247 Sports. Forward Romeo Weems (Michigan Mr. Basketball) and guard Markese Jacobs (Uplift) headlined the group.

“I appreciate DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto for her continued support,” Leitao said. “The process of laying the foundation for sustained success evolved into a strong start to this season before a tough run through the conference schedule.

"I’m proud of the resilience of our players and staff to finish the season strong before all of our lives were interrupted with the coronavirus outbreak. The response we received from our fans and supporters all season was outstanding and we can’t wait to continue to build excitement at Wintrust Arena in the future.”

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

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AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.