Q&A with AD Steve Bilsky
Penn Director of Athletics talks Penn football with the sports editors of The Daily Pennsylvanian
September 20, 2011, 11:25 pm · Updated October 16, 2011, 9:57 am·
Julia Ahn | DP
Each semester, The Daily Pennsylvanian’s sports editors sit down with Athletic Director Steve Bilsky to talk all things Penn sports. With the football season just underway, we touched on everything from the post-season to pre-game drinking.
Daily Pennsylvanian: Each season, more night games arise on the football schedule — what does that do for the program?
Steve Bilsky: I’m in favor of night games … and not simply because I think it brings out more students. That’s a major factor, but I like the build-up during the course of the day. I like the things that you can do pre-game … I really would like [Penn Park] to be a party atmosphere during the day.
DP: You’ve got three games to be broadcasted on Versus this year. Is that a priority?
SB: I think it’s great. We’re preparing the gradual change in how we do our media. Historically, we have had a tremendous relationship and a lot of exposure on Comcast in terms of football and basketball and some other sports as well. And that’s been great.
It’s good to be on television, it’s exciting, players like to see TV cameras and it helps recruiting, but that’s a local and regional entity, and in my mind the future really is streaming.
We’ll probably put a lot more investment into that and then TV will become either not an issue and we won’t do it anymore, or only if it’s national like Versus.
DP: When you first came to Penn you were very much in favor of getting the Ivy football champ into the FCS postseason. Now you’re in the middle of the aisle on that topic. What changed?
SB: I do support the playoffs. And I’m one voice, I’m one vote, but really I’m not even a vote. I’m one voice.
What I’ve learned subsequent to that, and I think which has made me hedge a little bit, is that I have talked to some of the football players and some of the coaches not just at Penn but elsewhere … that feel by that 10th game they are beat. They’re physically beat, they’re emotionally beat, and in our cases, we’ve won the championship and a lot of those people feel that’s how they want their season to end.
[However] all of our other sports are able to compete in the NCAA but not this one, and I think all of ADs have trouble with that from a philosophical standpoint.
We’ve had a couple of football teams that I think could have made a run, and you just wonder.
DP: Is there any pressure to change the status quo?
SB: There’s not a tremendous undercurrent from the players marching in here saying, ‘Why can’t we do it?’
I think some of them feel it’s very exhausting, it’s very demanding.
I think President Gutmann is not just speaking for herself, but speaking for the other presidents and saying, there’s enough on our table right now that’s important to you guys that we’re going to tackle and embrace, but this isn’t one of them.
DP: Some collegiate programs are starting to bring alcohol back to stadiums because it’s such a great revenue stream. Any chance we could see that at Franklin Field or the Palestra?
SB: I don’t think it would happen in Franklin Field or in the Palestra. I think the whole issue of what might happen in terms of these pre-game parties and so forth is a dialogue that’s taking place with the University. I can tell you that people are seriously considering the options, but I don’t know what the outcome would be for that. But I don’t see us selling beer in either facility.