June 27, 2018
CLEVELAND – The Division I AAA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AAA ADA) is proud to announce DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto as the 2018 Builder’s Award honoree.
“Jean has had many accomplishments throughout her distinguished career at DePaul University,” stated Builders' Award Committee Chair and Director of Athletics at Mount St. Mary's University, Lynne Robinson. “She has guided the Blue Demons to numerous athletics accolades in her more than 30 years of athletics administration, including in her current role as the Director of Athletics. With her longstanding commitment to student-athlete welfare and academic excellence, Jean has been a tremendous advocate for the DePaul student-athletes throughout the years. Jean has served on numerous NCAA committees and has made significant contributions to the enhancement of the DI-AAA Athletics Directors Association, having served as President and as a member of the Executive Committee. In recognition of Jean’s service to our Association, as well as her leadership and commitment to DePaul University and our profession as a whole, we are proud to present her with the 2018 Builders’ Award,” Robinson concluded.
A veteran of 43 years, Ponsetto is one of the best in the business. Now in her 16th year at the helm of DePaul Athletics, Ponsetto has helped elevate the Blue Demon’s in every way possible. Named the Director of Athletics in July 2002, she was instrumental in the school’s decision to join the BIG EAST in 2005 and was called upon again when the conference restructured in 2013.
“My sincere gratitude to NACDA, the DI-AAA ADA membership and the Builder’s Award Committee for this honor,” stated Ponsetto. “I count my blessings every day for the vast number of colleagues and mentors who have shared the wisdom of their journey so generously with me throughout my career. I am also incredibly grateful to all the many student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff I have been so honored to work with over the years as I humbly accept this award on behalf of our DePaul University athletics community.”
During her tenure as AD, 14 of the 15 Blue Demon athletics programs have qualified for NCAA championships including 15 straight NCAA appearances by the women's basketball team, two trips to the Women's College World Series, and multiple trips to the NCAA Tournament by the men's and women's soccer programs. However, the success of the Blue Demons is not limited to the playing field. Success has also come in the classroom with more than 1,200 Blue Demon student-athletes named to conference academic honor rolls. Academically, DePaul has led the conference in team academic awards for seven straight years.
A resounding testament of the hard work and determination of Ponsetto and the DePaul athletics department came in 2016-17. DePaul led the BIG EAST with six team championships and eight team academic awards. Highlighting the team athletics titles were men’s track and field claiming both the indoor and outdoor conference championships for the first time in program history. In addition to the eight team academic awards, a DePaul record total of 170 student-athletes were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team. A DI-AAA ADA Past President and DePaul Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Ponsetto has introduced four varsity women's sports at DePaul, while building several athletics facilities including the Sullivan Athletics Center and the Ray Meyer Fitness Recreation Center.
Over her career, Ponsetto has served on various NCAA committees and most recently was selected as a member of the NCAA Council and chosen by the council to serve as chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee. Following her term as chair of the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee, Ponsetto was nominated and selected as vice chair of the NCAA Council. She also served as a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Enhancement Group and is an NCAA Champion. Currently serving as NACDA’s 3rd Vice President, Ponsetto also chairs the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards Board of Directors and the Wade Trophy Selection Committee. A NACWAA (Women Leaders in College Sports) Past President, Ponsetto spent five years as Chair of the 49-member NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet, making her the first woman to Chair a Cabinet.
Ponsetto has been the recipient of numerous national awards including the Under Armour AD of the Year Award in 2015-16, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations’ Ellis Island Medal of Honor and on two occasions, was presented with NACWAA's Administrator of the Year Award. Ponsetto has been named one of the top 100 most influential women in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times and in the spring of 2003 was awarded the Leonardo Da Vinci Outstanding Achievement in Education Award by the Sons of Italy. Ponsetto was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 whose membership includes Ray Meyer, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton and Michael Jordan. Most recently, she was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in November 2014.
Over a career spanning 43 years, Ponsetto has added varsity programs, championship titles, national academic recognition, facilities and countless improvements to the DePaul student-athlete experience.
Members of the Builders’ Award Committee include Division I-AAA athletics directors: Lynne Robinson (Chair), Mount St. Mary's University; Patrick Elliott, Binghamton University; John McCutcheon, University of California, Santa Barbara; Bruce Rasmussen, Creighton University; Ken Kavanagh, Florida Gulf Coast University; Carla Wilson, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Troy Austin, Longwood University.
About the Division I-AAA ADA: Now in its 17th year, the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association's mission is to enhance initiatives common to its Division I-AAA membership (the Division I institutions that do not sponsor football), in particular, aspects related to their flagship basketball programs. For more information on the Division I-AAA ADA, please visit www.div1aaa-ada.com. The Division I-AAA ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 53rd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.