On Tuesday, Penn Athletics announced that the new director of strength and conditioning is Cory Walts, who will replace veteran Jim Steel on April 8.
Walts will be leaving his role of 12 years as the head strength and conditioning coach at Haverford College to take over the department at Penn.
“We went through a very rigorous process to select the absolute best match for Penn strength and conditioning and sports performance moving forward, and we found that match in Cory Walts," Associate Athletic Director for Sports Performance Andrea Wieland said in a statement. “Cory has ‘next level' thinking at the forefront of his mind, and aims to optimize the overall physical, mental and emotional fitness of our student-athletes."
The position opened on Jan. 10 when Steel unexpectedly resigned from his position after 20 years with the program. In a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Steel indicated that his resignation was a result of an ongoing dispute with the Penn Athletics administration.
“Exactly what happened is that the Sports Performance administration and I didn't see eye-to-eye on the best way to run the strength and conditioning program," he wrote. “I really love the athletes at Penn and will miss them.”
Upon leaving, Steel expressed frustration over the intrusive role that coaches and administrators played in the strength and conditioning program in a post on his personal blog, Bas’ Barbell.
“Penn Athletics has hired two additional strength and conditioning coaches in the past few months to assist with training our student-athletes. The Sports Performance Strategic Plan includes increasing the number of strength and conditioning coaches over the next several years, and increased staffing is a priority within that plan,” Associate AD for Administration and Strategic Communications Kevin Bonner wrote in a statement to the DP after Steel's departure.
“Penn Athletics has commenced a national search for the next head strength and conditioning coach. As one of our Centers of Excellence, our Sports Performance unit has a critical role in providing an unrivaled experience for our 1,000 student-athletes, and we will endeavor to find the best fit for that position. The goal is to have a new head [strength] coach in place later this semester.”
The Penn Athletics website and staff directory do not show any evidence of these two new hires, nor has it been updated to include Walts.
Walts attended Ithaca College, where he played football for four years and graduated in 2005 with a degree in clinical exercise science. He received a Master's in Kinesiology in 2007 and has experience working in the conditioning departments at Cornell, Maryland, and for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.
According to the Penn Athletics statement, Walts has a holistic approach to wellness, including focus on physiological, psychological, and lifestyle qualities.
“I am extremely excited to be joining the Quaker family and its rich history of athletics success," Walts said in the Penn Athletics statement. “I'd like to thank Dr. Wieland and [Senior Associate AD for Intercollegiate Programs] Rudy Fuller for leading a thorough selection process and entrusting me to lead the strength and conditioning department."
In addition to his role at Haverford, Walts has served as the co-head of the Philadelphia Area Strength & Conditioning Association, which aims to spread knowledge about the profession in the greater Philadelphia area.
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