Penn Athletics has informed head coach Jerome Allen that he will be fired after five and a half seasons at the helm of Penn basketball once the season is over. With one game left in his tenure, Allen has compiled a 65-103 record and a 38.7 winning percentage, the worst for any Red and Blue coach since 1914.
Allen was informed on Monday by Director of Athletics Grace Calhoun that he would be fired at the end of the year, a source confirmed Saturday. However, he will coach Penn's final game against Princeton on Tuesday after working the sidelines in wins Friday night against Columbia and Saturday against Cornell.
In a press release on Sunday, the athletic administration announced that Allen had elected to resign following his fifth full season at the helm.
"After considerable soul-searching and reflection, I've decided to resign from my post as the men's head basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania," Allen said in the statement. "Nothing could be harder for me, because this institution and program have been so dear to my heart.
"During the past six years, I have been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to which I gave my heart and soul. So I leave the program with head held high, knowing that a foundation has been laid for my successor to take this program and return it to the standard of excellence we all expect."
Allen is the first coach in program history not to win an Ivy League title since the conference was formed in 1956. Penn Athletics has yet to announce a search committee to look for the next Penn coach. According to a source, Penn will look for a coach with Division I coaching experience.
"For me as a person, I don’t know if there was ever a more inspirational or motivational coach than Jerome Allen," former player and Class of 2012 graduate Rob Belcore said. "I am extremely saddened to hear that he's been fired, but if you look at the record on paper ... I can’t say it’s not justified."
"It’s going to take a good recruiter to convince kids to consider Penn with Harvard and Princeton in the mix," former captain and Class of 1972 graduate Corky Calhoun said.
The Red and Blue have a strong recruiting class set to come in for next season. It is currently unclear whether any members of the five-man recruiting class will decide not to attend Penn in the fall.
"Penn’s a great school, so it would be foolish not to look at Penn, just because of the decision at the coaching spot," recruit and current Lower Merion (Pa.) senior Jule Brown said. "But I’m not really sure."
Allen played for the Quakers from 1991-95, winning Ivy League Player of the Year twice while leading Penn to three Ancient Eight titles. The Red and Blue’s last NCAA Tournament win came during Allen’s junior season.
But the Philadelphia native's coaching career did not see similar success.
"Coach Allen and I have engaged in a thorough and thoughtful review of the men's basketball program since I arrived on campus in July, and I know how much this program means to him -- both as its coach and one of its all-time great players," Grace Calhoun said in the press release. "Coach Allen always put the program first, and I am confident that he will continue to be a strong ambassador for the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn basketball program."
Allen's time on Penn's bench began as an assistant under then-head coach Glenn Miller in 2009. However, Miller was fired eight games into the season, prompting then-Athletic Director Steve Bilsky to promote Allen to interim head coach.
After a 6-16 finish to the season, Allen was named full-time head coach. The team improved in Allen's first season in charge and finished second in the Ivy League in his second full season, only one game behind Ivy champion Harvard.
However, after the graduation of Ivy League Player of the Year Zack Rosen and others recruited by Miller, Allen fell on hard times with a team dominated for the first time by his own players. The 2012-13 Quakers finished 9-22, the first time Penn had ever lost 20 or more games in a season.
With the entire squad returning for the 2013-14 campaign, the team was expected to rebound, predicted to finish second in the Ancient Eight. Instead, the Quakers had similar results as the 2013-14 squad, going 8-20. The 17-42 record over a two-year span was the worst in program history.
"I see a lot of guys on the team right now who are a lot more talented than I ever was," Belcore said. "I don’t know where the disconnect is, but from an Xs and Os standpoint, I know they’re running the same plays that worked for us. So I don’t look at it as, ‘he can’t reach those kids, he can’t put forth the effort.’
"I’m not going to say that [losing] was because of a failure on Jerome’s part. If Jerome Byron Allen can’t get you to put forth the effort that you need to win. I’m not sure anybody can."
On top of the losing records, multiple players left the program at the end of last season, increasing scrutiny on the struggling Quakers.
Despite reports of his dismissal, Allen refused to take any questions pertaining to his job status in the press conference following the Red and Blue's 79-72 win against the Big Red on Saturday night.
"In my attempt to be like [NFL running back] Marshawn Lynch, I'm just here so I don't get fined," he said.
Allen was the 18th coach in Penn history and the fifth to finish with a losing record. He is the first coach of the Red and Blue to finish with a losing record at the Palestra and maintains the worst road winning percentage of any Penn coach ever. Allen also has the worst winning percentage in Big 5 games of any Penn coach since 1956, having won only three of 23 contests against Philadelphia's four other elite basketball institutions.
Now Penn will look for a new head coach to bring the program back to the top of the Ivy League. The Red and Blue are currently in their worst Ivy title drought (eight seasons) since 1956-66.
This season, Penn has fallen on hard times once again, compiling a program worst seven-game Ivy losing streak while going 9-18 heading into its final game. Though the announcement of Allen's firing comes on the heels of a 54-46 win against Columbia on Friday night, the Red and Blue are 4-9 in conference right now and are one loss away from finishing tied for last place in the Ivy standings.Comments powered by Disqus
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