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Midway through the winter sports season, Director of Penn Athletics Steve Bilsky sat down with the Sports Editors of The Daily Pennsylvanian to talk about a successful fall for the Quakers and what’s on tap for 2011.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: Last year there was quite a bit of turnover among head coaches: in basketball, squash, men’s lacrosse and field hockey. How do you think the changes have gone?

Steve Bilsky: They’re very talented, and I think college coaching right now is very, very difficult. There’s much more expected of coaches — they have to do alumni relations, they have to respond through Athletic Communications. It’s not just going out on a court and teaching your sport. You almost have to be a CEO-type to do that. So when you bring in new coaches, there’s kind of a learning curve. It generally takes a couple of years before they figure it all out.

DP: Were you surprised at all when you heard that new field hockey coach Colleen Fink dismissed a player just before the season ended?

SB: We talked to her about that. And I think learning curves also mean that you go through an experience and you evaluate it and you look at in terms of, ‘Did I handle it the best way?’ We see something like this, and it’s our responsibility to talk to her. We have. And I think it was a good learning experience for her.

DP: Attendance at football games is still not where it probably should be for a repeat championship team. What’s your take on that?

SB: It’s a challenge. It’s really hard to figure out because we have been good for a long time. And I think it’s real complicated why the attendance isn’t greater at football. I know there’s more marketing and promotion that’s going on now than ever before. There’s kind of a joint effort being made and a lot of the initiatives are coming from students and we’re accepting it, rather than just the department tells you, ‘This is the way it’s going to be and you have to buy into it.’

DP: If Penn wins the Ivies again in 2011, would you like to see the Quakers in the FCS postseason soon?

SB: It’s probably going to take a unanimous opinion of the [Ivy League] presidents to do that. They think Ivy football, where it is right now, is good. It’s competitive. It’s not going to change in the foreseeable future. I’m mixed. I know at the end of the season, I talk to these guys, I see them — they’re beat. You’ve seen the celebration at the end of the season. That’s real. There’s a part of me that says, ‘That’s a good way to end it.’ And yet there’s a part of me, as a competitor, that would say, ‘You like to challenge yourself to the limit and see what that might be.’ There’s days where I feel both sides of it. I’m torn.

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