Jerome, if it is how you represented Penn, you should be, to Daily News sportswriter Dick Jerardi, “coach for life.” The question is: Why aren’t you? It certainly is not because of the regular alumni supporters attending the games. Their loyalty could not have been missed by anyone attending the Princeton game.
Why was there need to terminate you? And why before the season’s end?
The leak of your termination, no matter the cause, required you to prematurely explain the sad truth to your team. That they respected and likely loved you were proved by their playing their hearts out every game; for example, beating both Cornell and Columbia the last weekend. No, there was no quit in those men (contrasting to seven games that began 2009-2010).
Fear of availability does not justify the early termination. Any coaches hired between the Princeton game and selection day, five days later? One cannot reconcile any actions before that game.
On the merits, in your second full year coaching, with talent — Rosen, Belcore, Bernardini — your team was a game shy of tying for the Ivy title (11-3, 20-13). We can fairly conclude that even in your maiden years coaching NCAA Basketball, you knew how to coach.
What about the past three years? Admittedly they were embarrassing for winners of 25 Ivy Titles in 41 years. But you earned a five year contract, presumably the time determined necessary to bring back the program.
You had never had experience recruiting. The learning curve must have been quite steep. It would defy reality to expect you to be a super recruiter immediately.
You had lost your critical senior core, explaining the first of the three years given you under the new contract. In the second year, you should have been entitled to a pass when there were critical injuries, including the loss for the year of your best player, a 30-point scorer in an early game.
This year’s team, like all the others before it, never gave up. Further it was fueled by a deep and talented freshman class; four played major minutes but, of course, they also took the typical frosh year to develop.
You had proven you had learned to recruit. In addition, you had a star recruit from South Jersey, supposedly the next Zack Rosen, and another from Lower Merion, lined up for next year. And this year’s entire team back.
So why didn’t you get those extra years? The record looked bad. But we have examined the reality — the bottom had been hit and the future promised a bright upturn. Wasn’t this termination then solely because of the appearance!
Look at the values involved. Is this the lesson a first rate university wants to teach its students? Appearance, not merits, should dominate? And there were reasons for Jerardi’s moniker; you showed and taught the same strong traits of character that your coach Fran Dunphy had shown you. Develop men and wins will come. As an example, your star this year was disciplined to miss a weekend of games as a way of giving him — and the team — a message.
The Ivy League was formed in 1954 to downplay athletics and emphasize academics. Scholarships would only be based on need. Penn basketball has had a glorious run, but does anyone really believe that forever these seven other excellent schools could not draw some of that talent away!
No, to me, this wasn’t about the program but the appearance of movement: there had to be a head to roll — change for change’s sake. So your head rolled, Jerome, and now Steve Donahue, who should have followed Fran Dunphy, takes over. He inherits essentially the entire team returning and benefits from the two star recruits, you, Jerome, had lined-up. He will succeed, but whether it will be better than you could have done is debatable. What we do know is that Penn has lost a representative of the university deserving in that respect to be it’s “coach for life.”
You will be missed.
CHARLES MARK is a pseudonym for a Penn alumnus. Due to his standing with the administration, he requested to publish anonymously. However, his credentials have been verified by The Daily Pennsylvanian.Comments powered by Disqus
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