V. Moving On

Moving On

As he sat alongside his teammates on the turf of the newly renovated Student Pavilion, junior track thrower Justin Berg hadn’t the slightest clue what was going on.

An emergency meeting, called during the middle of a study day, was certainly out of the norm. But Berg, like many of the other student-athletes who were in attendance on that rainy December afternoon, was not at all prepared for what was next.

When Athletic Director Kevin Clark began speaking and reality struck, Berg’s body began to tremble. He had seen this before.

Surrounded by dozens of crying and confused student-athletes, Berg tried to keep his emotions together. But as his eyes met senior captain Gabe Pickett, and the two exchanged a hug, Berg lost it.

“It’s happening again,” he thought.

After his previous school, Millersville, cut its track program in 2012, Berg found a new home at Temple. He competed during the 2012–13 season, earning the Owls five points during the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship with his hammer throw. Now, with the elimination of the men’s track & field team – Berg must transfer again if he wishes to continue competing at the collegiate level.

One of the first courses of action Berg took after Clark’s initial announcement of the cuts was to find his coach, Eric Mobley.

“I told him, ‘I can’t stop competing,’” Berg said. “It’s the reason why I left Millersville and it’s the reason why I’m leaving here.”

Mobley said he told Berg to keep his head up, although the sixth-year coach was distraught over the news.

“It’s a shame that he had to go through this twice in a row,” Mobley said. “But Justin is a great student-athlete. I think he handled it pretty well. He’s not dwelling on it, he’s just looking toward the future and trying to do what’s best for him and the program for the remainder of the year.”

Berg said he will transfer to Penn State after the spring semester. Berg continues to practice with Temple, although he redshirted the season to give himself an extra year of eligibility.

“In a different era, I would have experienced an uninterrupted career,” Berg, a math and computer science major, said. “This wouldn’t have been a problem. That’s what is happening today. But three universities … that’s incredible.”


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The men’s gymnastics team has won two of the past three Eastern College Athletic Conference titles. The squad has led the athletic department in GPA during the past three years.
The men’s gymnastics team has won two of the past three Eastern College Athletic Conference titles. The squad has led the athletic department in GPA during much of the past three years.

Fred Turoff looked down at a vacuum cleaner.

It sat next to some boxes and a pair of crutches, in a room off the gymnastics team’s training gym in Pearson Hall. The gray two-toned wet/dry vacuum was open and dirty. It had seen better days – but it was still functional.

“This needs a new bag,” the men’s gymnastics coach said. “Let me see if there’s a janitor around that can get one.”

The men’s gymnastics gym doesn’t have the modern look of Edberg-Olsen Hall or the recently renovated areas of McGonigle Hall, but the team that has won 18 of the last 39 Eastern College Athletic Conference championships still practices 20 hours a week in their gym.

Including the 2013-14 seasons, Turoff and his crew counterpart, Gavin White, have been the head coaches of their respective programs for a combined 72 years. Both are members of the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame.

Last December, neither was given any advance notice about their teams’ impending elimination. They are both signed to one-year contracts that don’t include severance packages.

Turoff’s first memories of Temple go back to when he was in junior high, when he went to Temple on Friday nights to work out with the gymnasts. After his family moved to Connecticut, he came back to Temple for his degree. He graduated with a physics degree in 1969, and after a brief stint in graduate school, he took a job as an assistant coach for the Owls.

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Thirty-fourth-year crew coach Gavin White looks upward during an early morning fall practice on the Schuylkill. White’s father is a former athletic director of the university.
Thirty-fourth-year crew coach Gavin White looks upward during an early morning fall practice on the Schuylkill. White’s father is a former athletic director of the university.

White has been head coach for four fewer years than Turoff, but he has been around Temple athletics for longer. White’s father is a former Temple football coach and athletic director.

“I remember going to Temple football games when I was 6 or 7 years old,” the younger White said. “My dad was coach then, at the old Temple stadium. Watching football there was fun. Other memories I have are going down to gymnastics meets and going to basketball games.”

In April, Campus Recreation Director Steve Young said the men’s gymnastics team will continue as a club sport – with Turoff as its coach – after trustee Lewis Katz offered a $70,000 matching grant, given that Turoff and his team are able to fundraise the money each year.

After the crew and rowing teams were reinstated by the Board of Trustees in February, White’s job is no longer in jeopardy. But the longtime coach, who has battled Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade, has indicated that he could step down anyway.

White said in a November 2013 interview with The Temple News that he could coach 10 more years. He has since backed off that stance.

“That might have been a little bit ambitious on my part,” White said. “This might have been my last year, or next year. The hard part right now is that I have a group of sophomores that are amazing. They had a great fall … I have a feeling that by the time these guys are juniors and seniors, they’re going to be awesome.”


These days, coach Rebecca Grzybowski can rarely be found rowing on the water.

Instead, when she is not in a rowing coach launch or in an ergometer room guiding her team, Grzybowski can often be spotted running road races on land. One of her fondest memories growing up, Grzybowski said, was jogging alongside her dad and brothers around her neighborhood.

The rowing coach has always been an athlete, whether it be with soccer, basketball or rowing.

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Second-year women’s rowing coach Rebecca Grzybwoski (right) and her team used the motto of “last one, fast one,” before the university reinstated the team in February.
Second-year women’s rowing coach Rebecca Grzybwoski (right) and her team used the motto of “last one, fast one,” before the university reinstated the team in February.

After the crew and rowing programs were reinstated in February, reversing the university’s December decision to cut the teams, Grzybowski and longtime crew coach Gavin White were named the 2013 Schuylkill Navy Coaches of the Year.

“This year we wanted to embrace the Temple rowing community as a whole and also the two coaches who have led that community,” Schuylkill Navy Commodore Margaret Meigs said.

Now, Grzybowski has the opportunity to continue her head coaching career past her second season this year.

“Learning how to coach, it was a bit of a whirlwind,” Grzybowski said. “It was like getting tossed in completely. I knew what good rowing felt like from the inside of a boat but it was a totally different story trying to tell other people from the outside how to make [the boat] go fast.”

Grzybowski dedicated seven years of her life to training full-time, twice a day, six days a week – and sometimes on Sunday – at the Vesper Boat Club on Boathouse Row, while working a nine-to-five job in commercial real estate.

Her biggest contribution to the Philadelphia rowing community came in 2008, when Grzybowski qualified for the women’s national team. Rowing in seat three, Grzybowski helped her lightweight quad boat to a bronze medal performance, finishing behind Poland and Australia at the World Rowing National Championship in Austria.

After the initial announcement of the cuts, Grzybowski said she was keeping her team focused in preparation for the spring season – using a battle cry of, “Last one, fast one” in a year that the coach said would be more about her student-athletes racing for one another than for the university.


Joe DiPietro was shooting hoops on a warm March afternoon when he saw some girls from his former high school, Camden Catholic.

DiPietro, then enrolled at Gloucester County College, walked over to chat and found them disheartened. Their junior varsity softball team was about to get cut, the girls told him, because they had no coach.

“I said, ‘Tell them I’ll do it,’” DiPietro said. “I was only joking around. Well, they went and told the athletic director. He called me and said, ‘Look, just do it for one year.’”

That was 37 years ago. DiPietro has been coaching softball ever since.

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Softball coach Joe DiPietro said after the cuts were announced last December that he may have to collect unemployment for the first time in his life, after his team is eliminated in July.
Softball coach Joe DiPietro said after the cuts were announced last December that he may have to collect unemployment for the first time in his life, after his team is eliminated in July.

He spent 25 years at Camden Catholic, winning three straight championships and finishing with a record of 274–98. From there, DiPietro took a part-time coaching job at La Salle University, before becoming Temple’s head coach in July 2008. The story is funny, DiPietro said, for a man whose first love was basketball. And it all started with a softball team about to get cut.

Now, DiPietro’s own team has been cut. And after the 2014 season, DiPietro will find himself without a coaching job.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” DiPietro said. “I’ll wait and see what opens up, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get a job.”

Still, he said he’s proud of what he’s accomplished as a softball coach, especially at Temple. The softball team was the only program at Temple to have increased its win total every season for the past five years, before this season.

Economic reasons forced DiPietro to leave his previous gig at La Salle. In 2008, his title abstractor business went under, and he needed a full-time job. Since Temple was near his home in Mount Laurel, N.J., it was “a perfect spot.”

DiPietro built up the Temple program, turning it into a contender within a few years. Last season, the team set a program record for wins and led the country with 94 home runs.

“Where we could have gone, if they wouldn’t have cut us – we’ll compete for the league this year – I think we were in a really good place,” DiPietro said. “We had good kids coming in next year.”

Now, though, he has to bid goodbye to Temple, and DiPietro said that while he’s frustrated with the athletic department, there are still plenty of things he will miss.

“I’m going to miss my players, especially the freshmen and sophomores,” DiPietro said. “I recruited them, I helped develop them. The girls I have here, I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.”

“We just respect him so much,” senior shortstop Sarah Prezioso said. “Our team loves him, because he’s so approachable, and because he’s so laid-back and fun to be around. Just a nice guy.”


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Baseball coach Ryan Wheeler (left) dealt with the loss of six of his best players, who transferred after the December 2013 announcement of the cuts.
Baseball coach Ryan Wheeler (left) dealt with the loss of six of his best players, who transferred after the December 2013 announcement of the cuts.

In a one-on-one interview session, Ryan Wheeler has never been one to skew an answer.

The third-year Temple baseball coach isn’t afraid to shoot from the hip when paged for a non-masqueraded line.

Staying true to character, his response regarding how Temple transfers and twins Eric and Patrick Peterson would fare among a star-studded North Carolina State University pitching staff oozed nothing but the pure honesty of a baseball coach who has had a rather rough time of it since his team was marked for the chopping block last December.

“Do you want me to be honest?” Wheeler said.

The Peterson twins are two of nine players who have jumped ship to other schools amid news that the baseball program is one of seven sports being cut from the athletic department, effective July 1.

Juniors Matt Snyder (Kentucky), Adam Dian (Pittsburgh) and Eric Ferguson (Hofstra) transferred during the holiday break, mere weeks after the announcement. Junior Nick Lustrino, one of the team’s top regulars for the past two seasons, left the team as well.

Before the cuts, Wheeler, 42, thought the direction of the program was going in a positive direction.

“I watch us practice now and I don’t have to say much,” Wheeler said. “These guys know what to do. I felt like the quality of our players was improving. I certainly felt like I had tremendous support from the alumni and had really engaged them and gotten them involved.”

“I felt like we were doing a lot of great things, which is why the decision on [Dec. 6] came as a surprise,” Wheeler added.

With three young kids at home – two boys and one girl – moving to a different city isn’t as easy as it was before. Wheeler said he is lucky to have a family that is willing to do so, however.

For this baseball lifer, he just wants to keep doing what he knows and loves: coaching baseball.

“As we move closer to playing now and being on the field, I just recognize how special that is,” Wheeler said. “I think a month or two ago I said, I could be OK walking away and not being on the field. Now, getting ready to start the season and play this weekend – knowing this could be the last – it makes it seem all the more special.”

“I hope it doesn’t end,” Wheeler added. “I hope that I can continue coaching, but right now it’s just too early to tell what the future holds.”

IV. Fighting Back

Fighting Back

Snow started to fall in December as a crowd of rowers gathered in Fairmount Park between the condemned East Park Canoe House and the tents the crew and rowing teams have been housed in since 2008.

About 100 student-athletes, alumni and supporters milled around, looking at trophies and medals that the programs have compiled in their history.

They came together for a rally they hoped would help save the teams that were set to be eliminated in July 2014. Both crew and rowing were cut, along with baseball, softball, men’s gymnastics and men’s track & field.

Multiple pictures were taken at the rally, including one with all the team’s medals hanging on the fence that walls off the boathouse. The atmosphere wasn’t that different from a family reunion. However, most families aren’t fighting to save the thing that brought them together.

“It was heartbreak, and I think that’s the best way that I can explain it,” Rachel Jordan, a former Temple rower who graduated in 2007, said. “This team had been my family for so long. I still row today, and I think rowing is such a big part of Philadelphia’s tradition. It was devastating to me, not just that I might lose some of my family, but that this opportunity wouldn’t be there for future Temple students.”

“My friends from Temple rowing will be my friends until the day I die.”

“My friends from Temple rowing will be my friends until the day I die,” Jordan added.

Jordan was one of a group of alumni who had taken an active role in protesting the cuts. A “Save Temple Athletics” Facebook group was created and quickly gained thousands of members.

“There was a really big Facebook chat with 160 names on it at one point,” Scott Waters, a 2011 graduate of Temple crew, said. “Facebook has generally been a very, very valuable resource because it’s one of the few ways everyone’s interconnected. People underestimate just how many alums are actually in this area from this program. If there’s something worth knowing, everyone will know within an hour or two. It’s been very, very easy to keep track of what’s been happening because everyone is invested in what’s going on.”

Waters is now an assistant coach for the men’s crew team at Bucknell. He said he was “speechless” and in “complete shock” when he found out the news of the cuts.

“My boss, the head coach, who rowed for Roman Catholic, saw his phone and said, ‘I can’t tell you this. Look online,’” Waters said. “I saw a friend of mine on Facebook say, ‘Did you hear the news from Temple?’ I just Googled ‘Temple University’ and I saw the article saying Temple was cutting seven sports.”

“At that point, I really didn’t know what to do,” Waters added. “I still had work to do that day, even though I didn’t really want to do anything. I got out of my desk chair and sat on the couch in the office and didn’t do much of anything for the next three hours.”

At one point in the rally, crew coach Gavin White addressed the crowd, telling them the next step would be to contact state representatives to see what they can do.

“Our central leadership have been formulating their approach for what they want to do,” Waters said. “However, at the same time, I feel like the powers that be, as in the president and the AD … I don’t think they really understand what these people are like. How we are. What this community really, really is. That’s something that’s not going to go away.”

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Members of the men’s gymnastics team rallied outside Sullivan Hall before a Board of Trustees meeting in February. Coaches and student-athletes from each of the cut sports teams spoke at the meeting.
Members of the men’s gymnastics team rallied outside Sullivan Hall before a Board of Trustees meeting in February. Coaches and student-athletes from each of the cut sports teams spoke at the meeting.

Finals were done, the semester was over, but the men’s gymnastics team still had plenty of work to do.

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in late December, sophomore Evan Eigner, freshman Misha Kustin and senior Charles Baldi were at the gym inside McGonigle Hall working on their routines. Many of their teammates were home for break, where they worked out in their local gyms continuing to train for the start of the quickly approaching season.

“It’s 100 percent every single day,” Kustin said. “We all dedicate so much time and effort. Every day we’re trying to get better and doing everything we can.”

“It’s part of the sport,” Eigner said. “You really can’t take a break. One day you’re not in the gym, one of your competitors is in the gym getting stronger, learning a new skill, they’re getting better too. With us it’s a year round sport. It takes hard work day in and day out, every day.”

More than three weeks had passed since the athletic department announced the elimination of seven sports teams, including men’s gymnastics.

Each cut team was making efforts to save their programs, and the men’s gymnastics squad was at the forefront of those efforts. A petition was created that quickly garnered more than 12,000 signatures, as the team reached out to many students and others connected with the university.

Reaching the Board of Trustees was a different story. Thirty-eighth-year coach Fred Turoff acknowledged that the petition signatures were nice, but he would rather have the alumni and supporters behind it send letters to trustee members.

“I would like that and I encouraged my people not to let up,” Turoff said. “I want them to be sending letters in January and February as well, until we get some sort of communication from them and get a chance to plead our case.”

But the gymnasts’ efforts did little to sway the trustees.

A majority of the team, along with student-athletes from other programs, were present at a meeting of the general body of the Board of Trustees the week after the cuts. The student-athletes were not given a chance to offer public comment, though the cuts were discussed briefly by President Theobald.

The men’s gymnastics program is allotted a $60,000 operating budget, and the team says it is tasked with raising at least $29,000 of it every year. This past year, the team says it raised nearly $59,000 in donations.

The team is also given four scholarships, but Turoff has the ability to divvy them up as he sees fit. Eigner, who is Turoff’s son, receives tuition remission – not a scholarship. Still, a majority of the 19-man roster is paying for some part of their tuition.

“We’re really a positive cash flow situation for the university,” Turoff said.

The men’s gymnastics team has been one of the most successful at the university. Turoff’s squad has won four Eastern College Athletic Conference titles in the last eight years and 15 since 1990. The program has also run a youth squad for the past 11 years and hosts a Sunday clinic, which gets Philadelphia youth competing and, in some cases, even attracting them to come to Temple.

“This is something I would like the president and the board to know,” Turoff said. “That we’re not just an athletic team and we don’t cost them anything. We produce great products. We represent the school well.”


A pile of purple bats sat on a couch in Joe DiPietro’s office. There were about 20 of them, half of the amount that were donated to the softball team. Enough were given that every player got two Louisville Sluggers, which retail for $350. Temple didn’t pay anything for them.

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Members of each of the affected sports held private meetings with administrators in January to argue why they thought their sports should be reinstated.
Members of each of the affected sports held private meetings with administrators in January to argue why they thought their sports should be reinstated.

The bats aren’t the only pieces of equipment the softball team has had donated. DiPietro said the team has received $35,000 worth of free equipment in the past year.

That number was one of the sixth-year coach’s main points in a face-to-face meeting with administrators held in January. The biggest point DiPietro made, though, was regarding the administration’s position that traveling to Ambler Campus to compete provides a bad student-athlete experience.

“My argument was ‘Well, how come no one asked me about their student-athlete experience?’ DiPietro said. “Better yet, how come no one asked the players what their student-athlete experience or dignity was?”

DiPietro said he suggested the use of SEPTA’s Regional Rail service as a way to quicken the commute to Ambler.

“Ambler seems to be a big stumbling block with the administration,” DiPietro said. “It’s not a stumbling block for the teams that have to go there, at least for us … It’s not a big deal for us.”

Baseball coach Ryan Wheeler said he has been looking into other potential playing venues. He said he would like to consider more games at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., where the team had scheduled all but one conference game this season. He said he also suggested finding a field in Fairmount Park or partnering with MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, among other ideas.

“There are solutions,” Wheeler said. “They would take time to solve and some money, but they’re very practical and I think they’re solutions that would benefit our programs.”

Crew coach Gavin White said he stressed that his sport has more value to the university than the amount of money it brings in.

“We talked about how crew is not a bottom-line sport,” White said. “Of course, we don’t raise that money, we don’t get any income from attendance … this can’t be about bottom line. We travel all over the world, racing Russians, Germans. I think we bring ambassadorship to Temple. I have kids from Ireland. Fergal [Barry] was in there talking about Ireland. Kids from all over the world come here.”

Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff said his presentation was mainly based around the academic and athletic success of the team.

“Certainly the fact that we have represented Temple honorably and quite well in both the academic and the athletic areas speaks favorably to our program,” Turoff said. “I’d certainly like to continue being here. I’ve been here for 49 years.”

“I’d certainly like to continue being here. I’ve been here for 49 years.”

Gabe Pickett, a senior jumper and team captain for the track & field team, said his program’s presentation took a different approach than the other teams. He and his coach, Eric Mobley, talked about how eliminating the team will result in lost opportunities for African-American men.

“Men’s track & field is very popular with African-American males,” Pickett said. “If you get rid of that, especially in a prominent African-American area such as North Philadelphia … you’re eliminating that group.”

Pickett said he wanted to help the administrators understand what the coaches and players were going through, rather than listing numbers and statistics.

“I talked about the opportunities that track & field have provided me,” Pickett said. “Not just competing, but education, camaraderie with my teammates. It’s opened up a lot of doors, like being vice president of [Student-Athlete Advisory Committee]. I’ve been able to give back to the community with a lot of volunteer efforts to be an influence to those around us. It’s done more than just allow us to compete.”

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(From left) Rowers Layla Moran, Rachael Braccia and Kelly Hill react in excitement to the news that the men’s crew and women’s rowing teams will be reinstated. The programs were slated to be eliminated this summer before the Board of Trustees reversed its decision.
(From left) Rowers Layla Moran, Rachael Braccia and Kelly Hill react in excitement to the news that the men’s crew and women’s rowing teams will be reinstated. The programs were slated to be eliminated this summer before the Board of Trustees reversed its decision.

When 34th-year coach Gavin White first learned of the crew and rowing teams being reinstated, his initial thoughts involved the other five teams that weren’t.

“I feel bad for gymnastics, baseball, softball and track,” White said. “We’re all in this together.”

In an unprecedented move, the Board of Trustees in February approved a motion to reverse the university’s decision to eliminate the crew and rowing teams, effectively maintaining the programs’ Division I status that was slated to be reduced this summer.

At a public meeting at Sullivan Hall, the board passed a recommendation made by Theobald to reinstate the teams, two of seven programs included in the university’s December decision to cut sports.

Dozens of student-athletes and coaches from the cut sports attended the meeting, but Theobald’s recommendation did not call for reinstatement of the other eliminated sports – baseball, softball, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field.

White said it “really stinks” that the administration only voted to save the crew and rowing programs. Rowing coach Rebecca Grzybowski called the board meeting “bittersweet.”

“We know what it’s like – what it feels like to be in that situation,” Grzybowski said.

The board’s decision came after weeks of negotiations with the city to house the crew and rowing teams on Kelly Drive in the East Park Canoe House, the Owls’ former home until the building was condemned in 2008.

In a news conference at City Hall following the board meeting, Mayor Nutter and Theobald announced an agreement where Temple can share space with the Police Marine Unit after EPCH undergoes a $5.5 million renovation during the next 12–18 months. The city is paying $2.5 million and Temple trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest is donating $3 million. No university money will be used to fund the project.

“When things get cut, that’s when you find out who your true friends are,” White said.

Grzybowski said there were times since the December announcement of the cuts that she thought the program couldn’t be saved from extinction.

White said he’s ecstatic that his and Grzybowski’s programs will continue past this season, although he is unsure if he will continue coaching next year. The longtime coach said he is considering serving as an adviser next season to allow assistant coach Brian Perkins to take over the helm, because as White put it, “he bleeds Temple, too.”

Physical ailments have plagued White this year, but the announcement of the reinstatement could change his plans.

“I’m barely going to make it through this year, but I think this might give me some new energy,” White said.

Some of the rowers cried upon hearing the announcement that their team would be saved. Others kept emotions inside, as many of their fellow student-athletes still face the elimination of their respective teams.

Grzybowski and her rowers didn’t stick around too long after the board meeting, however. They had somewhere to be.

“We have practice at 4 p.m.,” Grzybowski said.


At the Board of Trustees meeting where the crew and rowing cuts were overturned, there was an opportunity for members of the public to voice their concerns directly to the board, Theobald and Athletic Director Kevin Clark.

Student-athletes from the affected sports hoped they would get a chance to state their case and perhaps sway the opinions of some board members.

However, that didn’t end up happening, as all but one present board member approved Theobald’s recommendation to reinstate crew and rowing, but still cut baseball, softball, men’s gymnastics and men’s track & field.

“I feel like they already had their mind made up and whatever we said, they weren’t going to [change their mind],” sophomore baseball player Tim McCarthy said. “They kept on going back to the four situations, with Title IX and all that. I just thought what they did, they haven’t handled this whole process correctly at all.”

The four factors for the cuts the administration has stood behind are inadequate facilities, issues with gender equity, student-athlete welfare and financial commitments.

“They knew they were going to do this the whole time. They never were going to change their minds.”

Baseball coach Ryan Wheeler said to the board that he had been told that facilities were the main reason for the cut of his team. When he asked why the offer from the Camden Riversharks allowing Temple to play home games in Campbell’s Field didn’t change the fate of the team, Theobald said the other factors played a role, eliciting groans from the crowd.

“They knew they were going to do this the whole time,” freshman baseball player Pat Vanderslice said. “They never were going to change their minds.”

“They kept bringing up the same thing over and over,” Vanderslice added. “When we would fix one thing, they would come up with another excuse.”

One of the reasons given in the past for the cut of men’s gymnastics is that the team shares a facility with the women’s team. Theobald has said there is not enough space for both teams.

“It’s kind of a given in our sport,” sophomore gymnast Wayne Conley said. “I don’t know how familiar they are with our sport. I think they don’t know much, if anything at all, about our sport and our situation. It’s a very special situation. The men and women’s team here, we’re like brothers and sisters. We’re all there all the time, and the facilities issue — it’s not even a question to me.”

Both McCarthy and Vanderslice said most baseball players will transfer after the season to play elsewhere.

“It would be hard to go to school and enjoy coming to a school if they screwed you over before,” McCarthy said.

III. Lost Traditions

Lost Traditions

Sometime in the 1990s, for the honeymoon before his second marriage, Gavin White took a cruise around the world.

He and his bride-to-be were on the water for 95 days. They headed south through the Panama Canal, up the West Coast and across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. They circled Australia, sailed through Indonesia and wound their way up to Southern Spain, before heading back across the Atlantic Ocean to New York.

White loved that boat trip. It was the greatest experience of his life, he said. He speaks about it nostalgically, much like the way he discusses his 40-year career in Temple athletics.

White, 88, served Temple as a football player, coach and athletic director from 1949–88 and is a member of the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame. He remembers a time when local rivalries dictated football schedules and the athletic department prided itself on the success of its Olympic sports.

Last December, Temple announced it would be eliminating seven of those sports – later reduced to five – to cut costs.

White’s son, Gavin R. White, was among those affected. After coaching crew for 34 seasons, White’s team was included in the initial plan to cut sports, though the crew and rowing teams would later be reinstated.

When the older White first learned of the university’s decision, he was floored.

“It has nothing to do with my son. It has to do with tradition,” White said. “It’s a shame to give up on what’s good to be reaching out for stuff that you don’t know what’s going to happen with.”

White’s sentiments are shared by scores across the Temple community. Many are casting blame at the football program, which the university is investing in heavily despite its penchant for losing games on the field and money off the field.

A review of the football team’s history shows that an inconsistency in institutional support has prevented Temple from building and maintaining a reputable program. Experts say two periods in the university’s history – the 1950s and the 1980s – when the administration didn’t invest heavily in athletics created rifts in the football program’s momentum.

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A trend line showing the history of the football team’s win totals shows that the Owls were losing on the field during two periods that the university didn’t invest heavily in athletics.
A trend line showing the history of the football team’s win totals shows that the Owls were losing on the field during two periods that the university didn’t invest heavily in athletics.

Former coaches say not having a strong profile, in addition to Temple’s history of being a commuter school located in North Philadelphia, has always made recruiting high-level prospects from outside the tri-state area difficult.

Furthermore, Temple’s inability to consistently win games has prevented the football program from bringing in the type of revenue that teams in major conferences use to prop up their athletic departments.

In the newly formed American Athletic Conference, Temple has the second smallest athletic budget ($41.5 million) but is tied for the most number of sports sponsored (24), according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. Officials pointed to that discrepancy as a main reason for the cuts.

The athletic department estimates that cuts to the men’s gymnastics, baseball, softball and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field teams will save the university $2 million to $2.5 million. President Theobald and Athletic Director Kevin Clark both deny that the football team was the root cause of the cuts and brush off the notion that the leftover money will be funneled into the upstart program.

However, few would dispute this: In the post-BCS era, a university’s athletic department lives and dies with its Division I football program.

The football team’s role in sponsoring an underfunded athletic department raises questions about its implication in the cuts. Even more troubling to some, its inconsistent history doesn’t stack up to the storied traditions of other non-revenue sports that were eliminated.

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Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting in February. Turoff, along with coaches of the other affected programs, tried to convince the board to reverse its decision to eliminate his team.
Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting in February. Turoff, along with coaches of the other affected programs, tried to convince the board to reverse its decision to eliminate his team.

The men’s gymnastics team is no stranger to the prospect of elimination.

In December 1994, R.C. Johnson, who was in his first year as Temple’s athletic director, proposed the elimination of men’s gymnastics, along with the women’s gymnastics and baseball teams. The announcement of Johnson’s proposal was made 11 days before the Board of Trustees voted on the matter.

The team took advantage of that time.

“Of course, in the time between then and the board meeting, the newspapers and TV got a hold of it,” coach Fred Turoff said. “Alumni got a hold of it, and there was such an uproar that the board invited us to make presentations to them, which we did.”

Turoff’s team, as well as the women’s team, took action. The Owls gathered in front of Johnson’s office at 1900 N. Broad St., looking to get a word with him. It worked, despite not getting the opportunity right away.

“[Johnson] later did have us come in,” Turoff said. “I was there with a couple of my athletes and he explained his reasons. [My guys] weren’t going to have that, and I wasn’t either. But that enabled us to gather a good head of steam.”

“We were able to mount hundreds of signatures on petitions and Fred was able to do a presentation in front of the trustees and there were some alternatives they were willing to accept,” volunteer coach Tom Gibbs said. “Since that time, he’s been able to raise a lot through fundraising to be more sustainable.”

Twenty years later, the team is in nearly the exact same position.

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The walls of McGonigle Hall are decorated with the achievements of the historical men’s gymnastics team. Since 1926, the team has won 26 conference championships, the most of any Temple athletic program.
The walls of McGonigle Hall are decorated with the achievements of the historical men’s gymnastics team. Since 1926, the team has won 26 conference championships, the most of any Temple athletic program.

With the program coming off back-to-back Eastern College Athletic Conference titles and accumulating the best grade point average out of all the teams in the school during the past three years, including the best grade point average out of any college gymnastics team in the country in 2011, Turoff never expected the announcement last December that his team was being cut.

In a February vote, the board reinstated the crew and rowing teams but reaffirmed that men’s gymnastics, men’s track & field, baseball and softball will remain cut. In 1994, the cuts were nothing more than a proposal, as no decision had been reached. Now, they are a reality.

Still, members of the team said they haven’t lost all hope.

“We’re doing everything we can to influence public opinion and the opinion of the administration,” Turoff said.

Like in 1994, the team created a petition in support of preserving the program, but brought modern-day strategies into the fold. Alumni created T-shirts utilizing the “Keep Calm” meme with “Keep Calm and Save Gymnastics,” and sent letters to Theobald and board members.

There is also the Perfect 10 Campaign, which aims to help raise funds via donations of $10 or more. The proceeds go toward challenge grants that, if raised, will be matched by trustee Lewis Katz to fund the budget moving forward.

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Three-time All-American Travis Mahoney became the most decorated distance runner in the men’s track & field team’s history during a five-year career with the program. Mahoney said after the announcement of the cuts that he feels “betrayed” by the program.
Three-time All-American Travis Mahoney became the most decorated distance runner in the men’s track & field team’s history during a five-year career with the program. Mahoney said after the announcement of the cuts that he feels “betrayed” by the program.

As a ripe collegiate track prospect at Cardinal Dougherty High School weighing his potential Division I opportunities, Paul Hines never really had a choice.

Growing up in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, Hines went to school and ran with Jack “The Saint” St. Clair’s children, and saw the coach frequently during services at Holy Angels Parish in the city.

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A rival of Jesse Owens, Temple sprinter Eulace Peacock tied the world record for the 100-meter dash in 1935.
A rival of Jesse Owens, Temple sprinter Eulace Peacock tied the world record for the 100-meter dash in 1935.

“He would take the collection in Sunday mass,” Hines recalled. “He’d whack me in the chest as he went by and say, ‘You’re coming to Temple.’”

Hines wound up running for the man he’d known for the better part of a decade starting in 1972.

Now a longtime track coach for the boys’ and girls’ teams at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, Hines occasionally looks back on what panned out as a productive career at Temple.

His accolades include a career-best 4 minute, 10-second time in the mile, and being part of Temple’s 1974 distance medley relay that at one time held the school record.

Now coaching the sport that he once made his niche, Hines has watched his former schools – and teams – drop by the wayside.

His high school, Cardinal Dougherty, shut its doors in Spring 2010. So did his former elementary school. The school in which he’s nestled a comfortable track coaching career, formerly Chestnut Hill Academy, is now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy as the result of a merge.

All were changes made within a few years. All occurred before the hammer dropped last December in the form of the athletic cuts announcement.

“My past is disappearing,” Hines said. “My initial reaction when it happened was not favorable. To keep a track program alive and running doesn’t cost that much money.”

As is the case with every program affected by the cuts, men’s track & field has its share of history and stories – some frequently talked about today, others lost in time.

Eulace Peacock, who was once considered the fastest man in the world and a rival of Jessie Owens, donned the Temple ‘T’ across his chest. Bill Cosby attended the university on scholarship to compete in track as his primary sport, not football.

Temple track & field enjoyed the guidance of a full-time coach for the first time in 2004, 18 years after the loss of its cross country program.

And while cross country was reinstated in 2005 and will continue, men’s indoor and outdoor track & field will bow out as a Division I program for the final time on July 1.

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Members of the 1948 baseball team take in a game from the dugout at Erny Field. The team played home games for its first 78 years before moving to the Ambler Sports Complex in 2004.
Members of the 1948 baseball team take in a game from the dugout at Erny Field. The team played home games there for its first 78 years before moving to the Ambler Sports Complex in 2004.

To this day, the baseball team has never played a game on Main Campus.

The program played its first 78 years at Erny Field in Mount Airy before moving to Skip Wilson Field at Ambler Campus in 2004.

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The Owls have had three home facilities during their 87-year history.
The baseball team has had three home facilities during its 87-year history.

Former pitcher Joe Hindelang recalls the countless trips from Main Campus up to Mount Airy, and described them as a “bonding experience.”

“It’s not about earned run averages and batting averages or setting career records and individual records,” Hindelang said. “It’s the experiences. It’s about relationships. It’s laughing at some of the crazy things we did. The school, with Clark and Theobald, use, ‘Oh, the trip out to the Ambler Campus.’ It’s just ridiculous.”

Erny Field is now used by Arcadia University. Former coach Skip Wilson remembers it being the “best field in the city.”

“It was well manicured and well taken care of,” Wilson said. “I don’t think being off campus was too big of a deal.”

Wilson said he doesn’t know why the program left Erny Field in favor of Ambler.

“When they compare it to other fields, it’s like a Little League field,” Wilson said of the field that has his namesake.

The lack of an on-campus facility was one of the many reasons the university used to justify the baseball program being cut. Playing off-campus is a reality known to every Temple baseball player before they enroll at the university.

A solution to that problem was thought to be settled last November when coach Ryan Wheeler – with the assistance of Clark – helped strike a deal with Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., to host 11 of the team’s 12 home games against conference opponents.

Campbell’s Field, home to the Camden Riversharks, was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2004 by Baseball America.

“I was ecstatic,” Wheeler said. “As we were going through it and I knew it was getting closer, we started to share it with recruits, with alumni, with the players on the team. It was making a huge difference, I was very excited about it.”

“We are truly excited to be able to provide a first-class venue for our team to perform in this historic season,” Clark said in a statement released Nov. 7.

Less than one month later, Clark recommended cutting the program.


In 2010, an event occurred that many argue shaped the softball program’s future. The administration decided to close the dormitories on the Ambler Campus.

“The central administration decided, without consulting [anyone at] Ambler, to close the dormitories and thus eliminate the center of campus life,” James Hilty, a professor emeritus and Temple historian, said. “With the students residing on Main Campus and with [the team’s] training facilities located there, it was argued that traveling to Ambler each day for practices and games was too great a burden to impose on the student-athletes.”

By 2012, attendance at the games had diminished, although the team was consistently improving.

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Freshman catcher Kaylyn Zierke prepares to practice at the batting cages at the softball team’s indoor facilities. The Owls compete at the Ambler Sports Complex, but often practice on-campus.
Freshman catcher Kaylyn Zierke prepares to practice at the batting cages at the softball team’s indoor facilities. The Owls compete at the Ambler Sports Complex, but often practice on-campus.

“We don’t really have any student participation at games,” coach Joe DiPietro said in a 2012 interview with The Temple News. “That makes it kind of hard sometimes.”

Despite this, the Owls revamped their stadium between 2011 and 2012. The team installed a press box, painted the dugouts and amphitheater seating, added bleachers and renamed the venue the Temple Softball Stadium. Much of the renovation was instigated by DiPietro.

Under DiPietro, the team had increased its win total each season heading into 2013. That year, the Owls won 32 games – breaking their single-season record.

For the 2014 season, Temple moved most of its sports, including softball, to The American. But the first season in a new conference will also be its last.

“Integral to the matter [was] the university’s decision to allow the Ambler Campus to die on the vine,” Hilty said. “I’m afraid that the softball [team was] affected by that decision to de-emphasize the Ambler Campus.”

“I was kind of mad,” senior catcher Stephanie Pasquale said. “We all worked to get the program going in the first place, and especially with everything we’ve accomplished in the past two years.”

II. The Relay Race

The Relay Race

The business of collegiate athletics is a relay race.
At least, that’s what Temple’s former athletic director Bill Bradshaw thinks.

Bradshaw, who oversaw athletics from 2002–13, is largely credited for managing one of the most significant transitions in the history of the department.

“When somebody hands you a baton, you take it and you run with it,” Bradshaw, who retired last summer due to personal reasons, said in an interview in January. “But you always try to hand it off in better shape than you took it.”

Most memorably, Bradshaw was part of the negotiations that led to the 2012 announcement that most of Temple’s sports would be competing in the Big East Conference. After the Big East folded last year, the Owls became a member of the American Athletic Conference.

Temple’s fragile stake in the new conference, which is full of schools with large athletic budgets, state-of-the-art facilities and a histories of financial success in Division I football, was one of the main reasons Athletic Director Kevin Clark said he recommended the university eliminate seven non-revenue sports last December.

In the new conference, Temple has the second-smallest budget ($41.5 million), but is tied for the most number of sports it sponsors (24), according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education.

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Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty fields questions from student-athletes at a Board of Trustees meeting held four days after the sports cuts were announced. (Bottom left) President Theobald and Athletic Director Kevin Clark explained the reasoning for the decision to cut sports at a board meeting in February.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty fields questions from student-athletes at a Board of Trustees meeting held four days after the sports cuts were announced. (Bottom left) President Theobald and Athletic Director Kevin Clark explained the reasoning for the decision to cut sports at a board meeting in February.

The cuts were initially estimated to save the university $3 million to $3.5 million. In an interview after the announcement, Clark denied that the cuts were made to pump money into the upstart football program.

“This is to right-size our budget and to give our student-athletes remaining a chance to compete and give them the experience they deserve,” Clark said. He said there was no pressure from officials in The American to improve facilities or cut sports.

The administration pointed to four factors as cause for its decision to eliminate the sports: student-athlete welfare, issues with athletic facilities, non-compliance with Title IX and the athletic budget’s low place in the new conference.


If you enter through the left door leading into Gymnasium 143 in the back of McGonigle Hall, you might bump into something.

There’s an elevated runway that leads up to the front door. It serves as the vault runway for the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams.

Both programs have been sharing Gyms 143 and 144 in McGonigle since 1982, the year when Temple lost a Title IX lawsuit to former Temple badminton student-athlete Rollin Haffer and was forced to equalize the facility.

Men’s coach Fred Turoff came up with a specific plan: put the uneven bars where the parallel bars and pommel horses were, and move the latter two apparatuses into Gym 144. That, along with sharing the floor and vault, has been acceptable to Temple’s administration for the past 32 years.

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Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff sets up equipment in the gymnasium in McGonigle Hall during a spring practice. Administrators say the men’s gymnastics team was cut in part due to issues with facilities.
Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff sets up equipment in the gymnasium in McGonigle Hall during a spring practice. Administrators say the men’s gymnastics team was cut in part due to issues with facilities.

Now, the fact that the teams share space is one of the reasons the men’s team will have its Division I sponsorship reduced in July.

After the Board of Trustees voted to cut the men’s team last December, President Theobald said on numerous occasions that facilities were one of the primary factors for eliminating the program.

To be sure, Temple is not in a unique situation when it comes to both the men’s and women’s team practicing together. Only three teams in the country have separate facilities for men and women: Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska.

One of those schools, Michigan, has two facilities that are far larger than what Temple has in the 8,000 square-foot McGonigle gyms. The women train in the 22,000 square-foot Donald R. Shepherd Training Center, while the men practice in the Loken Training Center, a 10,500 square-foot facility. Both feature resi and free-foam pits for every individual event.

Most of the other Big Ten schools have similar facilities, including Penn State, the only other school in Pennsylvania to sponsor college gymnastics at the Division I level. The Nittany Lions practice in the White Building, which is 13,400 square feet, features various pits and has a team lounge with a flat-screen TV.

But concerning Temple’s facility, gymnasts said the lack of pits isn’t the main problem for the Owls – it has to do with the building itself.

“The biggest limitation is the wall separating the gyms,” Turoff said. “Because that means the coach can’t oversee the entire field of practice.”

“It’s hard when we have to have one coach over here and one coach over there, we don’t really know what’s going on in either side,” senior women’s co-captain Heather Zaniewski said. “We have to run across if we need to spot for something. Sometimes it’s honestly just a distraction.”

Temple is also the only school in The American that doesn’t have stadium lighting and grandstand seating for its baseball program. The baseball and softball team, which were both included in the cuts, and the soccer teams compete at the Ambler Sports Complex.

The Owls rank last or second-to-last in attendance in four out of the five sports that competed at Ambler last fall.

Multiple administrators said the softball and baseball teams’ home at Ambler are inadequate and the cause for the programs’ inclusion in the cuts.


Theobald has frequently mentioned Title IX specifically while making public comments explaining the cuts.

During his president’s report at a Board of Trustees meeting four days after the cuts were announced, Theobald said the student-athletes of the affected sports are “casualties” of the university’s “overreach in trying to operate an athletic program beyond its facilities and resources, which caused us to be out of compliance with Federal law.”

Title IX compliance was the first issue Theobald mentioned in an op-ed published in the Inquirer on Dec. 21 outlining the problems he saw with Temple’s athletic department upon his arrival at the university in January 2013.

However, some say a desire to be compliant with Title IX isn’t a legitimate excuse for cutting sports. Critics of the sports cuts say Temple could have simply reduced participation in men’s sports or added a women’s sport if it wanted to balance out Title IX numbers, while athletic administrators insist that Temple is bound by a roster management plan enacted after the university was re-certified by the NCAA in 2007.

“I think that’s something the new president has wanted to do. That was always in the crosshairs.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX enforcement, discourages the elimination of sports because “it diminishes opportunities for all students interested in participating in athletics, and so is contrary to the spirit of Title IX,” according to a statement released by an OCR spokesman.

In an interview in January, Senior Associate Athletic Director Kristen Foley said the desire to be compliant with Title IX wasn’t the “sole reason” for the cuts.

“You have to put it into perspective and keep [Title IX] in consideration with any decision you make in the athletic department,” Foley said.

Title IX requires that the proportion of male/female participation in athletics should closely resemble the gender ratio in the university’s undergraduate enrollment, while the percentage of athletic financial aid given to men and women should line up with participation numbers.

According to the most recent data, Temple has a ratio of 51 percent female to 49 percent male in its undergraduate population, while 52 percent of its student-athletes are men. Last year, Temple gave 58 percent of its athletic student aid to men.

Foley said the university has a roster management plan in place to ensure the athletic numbers line up. It was enacted as part of an overall gender-equity plan after re-certification.

In February, Theobald reported to the Board of Trustees that the university was under investigation by the OCR for possible failure in providing equal opportunities for its female student-athletes.

Theobald said the investigation was “not unexpected.”

Foley insists that the sports cuts will move Temple’s Title IX numbers toward being compliant, but declined to talk specifics.

Still, despite whatever overtures Temple makes toward being Title IX compliant in the future, it’s unclear what, if any, penalties the university will face for its non-compliance.

Scores of Division I schools across the country are Title IX non-compliant. In Temple’s conference alone, half of the schools don’t pass the participation to aid numbers test.

Since Title IX was passed in 1972, the OCR has never denied federal funding to an institution for being non-compliant. If the OCR finds a compliance violation through an investigation, it is more likely to enter a “voluntary resolution agreement” with the university with a plan to come into compliance, according to a statement.

“It’s not necessarily we didn’t meet proportionality this year, so the OCR is going to come in and ding you,” Foley said.


Bradshaw said that the notion of dropping some sports was “always under discussion” under the administrations of former presidents Ann Weaver Hart and David Adamany. He said he was “disappointed, but not totally surprised” to hear about the decision to cut sports.

“I think that’s something the new president has wanted to do,” Bradshaw said, though he insisted it had nothing to do with his decision to retire. “That was always in the crosshairs.”

While Bradshaw was able to avoid any cuts during his tenure, the budget issues that many Temple sports have today were no less dire under his administration and have been highly scrutinized in the new conference.

A review conducted by The Temple News last spring, using 2011-12 data, showed Temple ranked last in the new conference in operating expenses for its non-revenue sports by about $12,000 per sport.

The non-revenue sports stacked up much better in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Owls’ home for all sports other than football from 1982–2012. Records show that last year Temple had the largest athletic budget out of all the A-10 schools by far, about $12 million more than the University of Massachusetts. Facilities, too, were much more in line with that conference.

Historically, the football team has competed in a separate conference from the non-revenue sports, which have been able to stay competitive against schools with more modest budgets and facilities. However, in the new conference of football schools, some of the financial discrepancies are alarming.

Temple spent $62,500 in operating expenses combined on its men’s and women’s tennis programs during the 2011-12 year, which ranks last by far among The American schools. Most schools spent more on just one of their programs than Temple did on both of its combined.

Bradshaw admitted the decision to change conferences mostly considered Temple’s revenue sports, saying “those conversations are always more compelling” when discussing football and basketball.

“You compare a lot of things inch for inch, dollar for dollar,” Bradshaw said about benchmarking the revenue sports. “In terms of non-revenue sports, it’s not as critical. Not that they aren’t important, just not as critical.”

I. The Ambush

The Ambush

Two white umbrellas shielded Athletic Director Kevin Clark and Deputy Athletic Director Pat Kraft from the downpour of rain as they followed the student-athletes into the building.

Moments later, on a gloomy Friday afternoon last Dec. 6, Clark was gone.

He had just dealt a heavy blow to the 200 or so student-athletes gathered at the Student Pavilion on Main Campus: Temple’s Board of Trustees approved a recommendation from Clark to eliminate men’s gymnastics, men’s indoor and outdoor track & field, baseball, softball, men’s crew and women’s rowing, effective July 1, 2014.

Clark, who was promoted from interim to full-time athletic director a month earlier, delivered the news in less than three minutes. He stood at a podium in front of a banner celebrating Temple’s inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference, on a turf field installed last summer that allowed the football team to practice indoors.

By the end of the announcement, many student-athletes were in tears.

The door to the building slammed open as one of the student-athletes affected by the decision stormed out. She walked away and stood next to a black fence surrounding the facility, clenching a laptop in her arms with a blank gaze on her face.

The student-athletes began filing outside, most visibly upset. Standing across the street, members of the women’s track & field team tried to make sense of the fact that their program would be split in half.

A group of soccer players, unaffected by the cuts, passed by the Geasey Field Complex.

“F––– this school,” one student-athlete said.

“Football and basketball get f–––ing everything,” another said.

One student-athlete’s words seemed to sum up the entire group’s reaction: “I don’t know what to do.”

The students never saw it coming.

The email they had gotten the day before, calling for a mandatory meeting of all student-athletes at 1:45 p.m. the next day, was nondescript.

“Additional details will be distributed tomorrow morning,” the email from Justin Miller, director of student-athlete advising, said.

The Owls knew it would be bad – an emergency meeting scheduled on a study day had to be – but a few of them were cracking jokes and laughing while walking into the Student Pavilion.

Some speculated that someone had cheated on an exam and they would be lectured ahead of finals week. But the announcement that was soon delivered to the teams was one that few, if any, expected.


Entering his third year as Temple’s baseball coach, Ryan Wheeler was called upon to attend a meeting with Clark and other administrators on Dec. 6 in the fourth-floor sports offices at 1700 N. Broad St.

Wheeler said he was present in the waiting room alongside track & field coach Eric Mobley and softball coach Joe DiPietro.

Mobley was summoned first. A few minutes later, after he emerged with visible distress from his individual meeting with Clark, the situation became relatively clear.

“You just had to sit and wait for your turn,” Wheeler said. “They ripped the Band-Aid off and they ambushed us with the news. It didn’t give us time to do anything about it.”

After learning for certain that the baseball program was being cut, Wheeler had to rush over to the Student Pavilion to be with his players when Clark delivered the news. Rowing coach Rebecca Grzybowski wasn’t given that opportunity.

“I wasn’t in there because I had a meeting 10 minutes prior that was late,” Grzybowski said. “I was in 1700 hearing the news and I didn’t even get the courtesy to be with my team when the announcement was handed down. I walked into the aftermath of it.”

“They’re not just breaking up the team, they’re breaking up the teammates – my best friends.”

One person who did make it over to the Student Pavilion in time for the announcement was 34th-year crew coach Gavin White.

“Coach White? I think you mean Mr. White,” he said with a laugh during an interview following the cuts.

White, who was inducted into the Temple Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985, learned of the cuts in the same manner as the other coaches – including 38th-year men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff.

Turoff had a meeting with Kraft at 1:05 p.m. After everyone was in the know, the team went to McGonigle Hall and trained. Turoff said the news “cast a pall” over the session.

“They’re terribly disappointed,” Turoff said at the time. “Some of them were tearing. Nobody was in a buoyant mood.”

Turoff was informed of the meetings by an email sent to him on Dec. 5.

“There was no indication to me … that it was only directed to certain coaches,” Turoff said.

“One of my kids said to me, ‘How long have you known this?’” White said. “I told him, ‘20 minutes.’ He said, ‘Get out of here.’”

University officials said the cuts were kept quiet in an effort to avoid the spread of rumors and misinformation. Some coaches and student-athletes were conflicted on the matter and said there might not have been an ideal way to break the news to them.

White’s biggest complaint in regards to the handling of the announcement was that it came less than three days before the start of final exams. He called the timing “cruel.”

“I can’t sleep as it is,” White said. “They have to take finals. The timing couldn’t be worse in terms of academics. That part baffled me. My goodness.”

“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how smart you are,” White added. “It’s got to be on their minds. And then they’ll hold us accountable when we have two or three guys ineligible because they didn’t do well on their finals. No kidding.”

University officials said the timing was coordinated to allow student-athletes to contemplate their future plans over the holiday break.

“The way they did it was very uncompassionate for all the hard work we’ve put in,” junior Julia Kastner, of the softball team, said. “I think the timing was just terrible. Friday was a study day, and they scheduled the meeting right in the middle of the day.”

“It’s really hard to concentrate when half of the team is trying to figure out where they’re transferring for fall of next year or maybe even spring,” Kastner added. “The other half of the team is thinking about how much they’re going to miss everybody. They’re not just breaking up the team, they’re breaking up the teammates – my best friends.”

Clark’s two-minute speech announcing the cuts to student-athletes was also questioned.

“He read off a piece of paper,” Kastner said. “It felt like we were being fired from our jobs. It was quick and clean and then he just got out of there.”

“He pretty much just handed us over to Justin Miller and said, ‘See you later guys. I’m out of here,’” crew captain Fergal Barry said. “We’re not his problem anymore after July 1.”

Wheeler emphasized the “great distance” in space between Clark and the student-athletes when he took the podium. White attributed the brevity of the announcement to the fact that Clark was “probably scared to death” in cutting such historic programs.

“He could have been more personable about it – more compassionate,” Wheeler said.

“It was quick,” White said. “Chop, boom, you’re gone.”