Football is everything.
At least that's the message Temple sent today with the school's announcement that it's cutting seven of its 24 intercollegiate sports: baseball, softball, men's crew, women's rowing, men's gymnastics and men's indoor/outdoor track & field, effective July 1.
According to The Temple News, the cuts were described by officials as a culmination of the university’s long history of a underfunded athletic department. Reportedly, the cuts will save the university an estimated $3 million to $3.5 million out of its $44 million budget.
Temple Athletic Director Kevin Clark said that the decision to drop five men's sports concerned Temple's ratio of male/female student-athletes. Title IX requires that the male to female student-athlete ratio remains relatively close to the normal student body. Before the cuts, the ratio was approximately 58 percent men to 42 percent women and should now be closer to an even split with today's cuts.
Clark also shot down the notion that the cuts were made to redirect money into the school's football program, but there's no doubt Temple has doubled down on football since getting booted out of the Big East after the 2004 season. The Owls remained as an independent at that point, only to rejoin the Big East last season when the conference was desperate to take anyone thanks to NCAA mass realignment issues.
And then last month, Temple president Neil Theobald said that an on-campus football stadium would likely be part of the university's 2014 masterplan, even floating the possibility of sharing space with Penn at Franklin Field.
Now close to 150 Temple student-athletes and nine full-time coaches have learned that when it comes to the lucrative cash cow that is college football, it takes big money to make big money.
As one of the Owls' biggest city rivals, Penn has faced off with Temple in several of the latter's newly cut sports in the last few years, including men's track & field this past season, women's soccer last season and baseball and softball in 2012.
While The DP noted last month that Penn Athletics is increasingly reliant on philanthropy rather than university funding, Penn isn't anywhere near Temple Athletics's program-cutting crisis right now financially, thanks to the recently completed $125 million Campaign for Penn Athletics.
Still, Temple's cuts to several high-profile programs - a Temple rower had participated in every Olympics from 1992 to 2008, for example - make it even more clear that Division I Sports is an all too bloated destination for state taxpayers and alumni donations. The Knight Commission's report this week that athletic spending per athlete grew at a faster rate than academic spending per student in every Division I subdivision from 2005-11 isn't a surprise. Even less surprising was the commission's finding that that gap between athletic and academic spending was smallest at schools without football.
Trend or no trend, today's the day that far too many sports died at Temple.
Penn football lost its last four games to finish out 2013. Now the Quakers also lose two fifth-year senior quarterbacks as well as a bevy of experienced team standouts in the secondary and along the offensive line.
So what will be the single-greatest area of roster upheaval facing the Quakers as they look ahead to the 2014 campaign, and how will they transition in that area?
Associate Sports Editor Jimmy Lengyel: I think the answer is obvious: the secondary.
I think it was one of the most overlooked areas of the team considering the front seven played beyond their expectations.
Penn has some formidable talent along the defensive line and great leadership in the line backer corps as exemplified by All-Ivy first teamer Dan Davis who has really come into his own as a leader and a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball.
The Quakers are losing veteran leadership all throughout including safety Evan Jackson and defensive backs Dan Wilk and Sebastian Jaskowski. Despite the strong play by these three defensive backs, the secondary surrendered 7.3 yards per pass play and were quite the liability in games against hot handed quarterbacks like Quinn Epperly and Cornell's Jeff Mathews.
The secondary is going to be young and unheralded heading into next season and will lean on Mike Laning, Dylan Muscat, and special teams standout Ian Dobbins heading into next season. It's a tough hurdle to battle through especially since Penn will see another round against Epperly next season and the strong quarterbacks that are making their names known in the Ivy League.
Not to mention, if any position is based on the subtleties and nuances of technique it's the corner back and safety positions. For these players to develop its all about reps and with young players throughout their will be growing pains next season. Hopefully, Bagnoli and his scouts can rake in a strong secondary in the next year or two to help build this area of their team because losing the instinct, leadership, and experience throughout the defensive backfield puts pressure on the offense, an offense that will have a host of its own growing pains heading into 2014.
Sports Editor-elect Riley Steele:
I think the ole Jimster raises a good point when he brings up Penn's secondary. The Quakers truly are losing pillars of consistency and past success with the graduation of Jackson, Wilk and Jaskowski. Though Wilk has been the quarterback of Penn's defensive backfield for awhile now, I think the Red and Blue are going to suffer the most with the departure of their actual quarterbacks on the other side of the ball. The departure of Billy Ragone (and his beard), as well as reliable backup Ryan Becker will spell trouble for the Quakers next season. It's not every day that a team is led by a veteran with three championship rings, but that's the situation Penn found itself in entering this season. While 2013 didn't go as planned for the Quakers, it's impossible to say that Penn would have been in a position with a quarterback not named Billy Ragone under center.
Ragone's resume speaks for itself. Three Ivy titles in four seasons, veteran leadership and the ability to make key plays through the air and on the ground are a package that don't come around too often. With Ragone missing a large portion of the season due to injury, Becker stepped into the fold and also did a solid job. While there were hiccups with both at time this year, it's impossible to measure the value of their veteran leadership. Regardless of who Al Bagnoli chooses to have leading the offense next season, no option will have as much experience or knowledge of the offense as Ragone and Becker did.
It's tough to forecast who will start at quarterback for Penn next September. We saw Adam Strouss play sparingly this season, primarily assuming backup duties when Becker started several games. But Strouss did most of his damage on the ground, and we've yet to see him demonstrate his play-making ability through the air. Alek Torgersen did a phenomenal job in Penn's comeback attempt against Cornell, but it's unclear what Bagnoli's plan is heading into 2014. It'll be a rude awakening for a young offense next season, and without Ragone or Becker, I wouldn't be shocked to see some inconsistency under center at the start of next year.
The offensive line. It has to be the o-line.
First off, Penn's line struggled in a lot of areas this year. It truly did. Though Penn's quarterbacks only got sacked 19 times on the season, a decent number, there were far too many instances where Ragone or Becker would be forced to rush throws and it would result in an ugly incompletion, or worse, a pick. Sometimes, it appeared as if the Red and Blue couldn't get a push up the middle, and as a result, it looked like Bagnoli would be forced to go to the same off-tackle plays over and over again until opposing defenses knew what was coming.
Sports Editor Ian Wenik:
The situation's not going to get better next year, either. Chris Bush, who was first team All-Ivy this year, is gone, and so are left tackle and guard Jake Schwertner and Steve Szostak and right guard Sean McGinn. In one fell swoop, Penn's lost the signal-caller of its line and its primary pass protector and pulling guards. I don't care who lines up under center, that's a recipe for disaster.
So who needs to step up next year? It needs to be right tackle Sean McGinn, who will be the only returning starter next year. He needs to instill veteran leadership on whomever lines up alongside him. And most importantly, it also needs to be the junior backups that have been listed as number two on the depth chart all year: left tackle Jack Alvarez, left guard David Strauser, and center Trent Rivera. They've had three solid years to study and learn Bagnoli's offensive scheme. It's time to put them to the test.
Hot off a shot in the NCAA tournament and an Ivy title, Penn men's soccer has another thing to celebrate: senior captains defender Jonny Dolezal and forward Stephen Baker were both accepted to the 2014 InfoSport Pro Soccer Combine. Part of "one of the closest classes on and off the field" that coach Rudy Fuller has coached at Penn, the two seniors played for the Reading United A.C. team in the USL Premier Development League. Both were part of an historic victory over the USL Pro League's Harrisburg City Islanders this past summer. Dolezal was named 1st team All-Ivy this season and Baker was a team leader in shots with 43, just behind Ivy Offensive Player of the Year Duke Lacroix.
It's game time at the Pavilion! Can Penn pull off the upset against No. 14 Villanova, which is riding high after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis? Join me and Senior Sports Editor Mike Tony and find out:
Through two games this season, one thing is clear for Penn women’s basketball — coach Mike McLaughlin has found a gem in Sydney Stipanovich. With two games under her belt, the freshman center has put up 23 points and has looked impressive in her minutes coming off the bench. The question now becomes: Should she be in the starting lineup?
Holden McGinnis: Despite being winless through its first two games of the season, there have been a few bright spots for Penn women’s basketball. The brightest of these has to be Stipanovich, who is averaging a team-high 11.5 points in just 19 minutes per game.
Though this is a team that has thrived on its upperclassmen leadership, it might be time for a change in coach McLaughlin’s rotation. Stipanovich is going to need to see more playing time early in the season before the team makes it to the Ivy League portion of the season. She’s going to need starter’s minutes sooner rather than later if the Quakers want to find success this season.
Steven Tydings: I see where you are coming from. Of course, whenever you see a talent coming aboard like Stipanovich, you are going to want to give her plentiful minutes right from the start. However, I am going to preach patience.
The Red and Blue have two very solid veteran forwards in juniors Katy Allen and Kara Bonenberger. The duo has been reliable in the paint for Penn the last two years alongside senior Courtney Wilson, and it would be silly to think that they can’t continue to give the Quakers solid minutes. Despite Stipanovich’s diverse skill set, McLaughlin needs to ease her into big minutes as the season goes on.
Additionally, it has always been McLaughlin’s M.O. to bring his freshmen along slowly, although Meghan McCullough’s injury last year forced Keiera Ray into big minutes early on a season ago.
HM: That all makes sense. I can’t say that there is anything particularly wrong with an Allen-Bonenberger frontcourt, but clearly the Quakers are going to need to make some changes this season if they want to contend for the Ivy League title.
Penn is playing this year with a lineup almost identical to last year’s (other than the McCullough injury) and will likely head to a similar result if they continue on this track. Stipanovich’s skill set is diverse, just as you said, so there’s no reason she shouldn’t be able to immediately find a way into a number of different lineups for the Quakers. If you have a player this clearly talented, you need to take advantage before the season slips away.
ST: When the Quakers begin Ivy League play in January, the key to pulling out the conference is finding a second wind, especially when facing teams for the second time. By limiting Stipanovich’s minutes early on, you can ensure her health going into the 14-game tournament that truly decides the season.
Also, by letting Stipanovich crack the starting lineup later on, Penn’s Ivy foes will have less tape on the freshman. Therefore, McLaughlin’s utilization of his star center will come as more of a surprise to the rest of the Ancient Eight, making Penn a different and better team when Princeton and Harvard come around.
Verdict: Let her grow during nonconference play. Holden takes this one.
Follow along as Penn (2-3) takes on Lafayette (0-5) at Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa.
With Thanksgiving 2013 in the history books, it's time to wrap up DP Sports's three-part Thanksgiving blessings series. Part 2 covered the cornucopia in McNuggets and pop, and part 3 gets a little more musical...
Billy Ragone's Fu Manchu
Jimmy Wagner's use of expletives
Miley Mondays, Taylor Swift Tuesdays
The Daily Steele-ven-sylvan-Ian
DPOSTM Swimsuit Edition calendars
Jimmy Juice and Scream Arms
"Are there any cups?"
(The majority of) Ellen's road trip playlist
The bro line
Squash and fencing rulebooks
Dylan Jones making his dunk against Temple ... unlike Cam Crocker last year
Happy Thanksgiving from DP Sports! Our staff has compiled all the things we're thankful for, and we came up with so many blessings we had to spread them out over three days. Yesterday's part 1 managed to focus on Kyle Wilcox and the Iron Sheik at the same time, so part 2 has a lot to live up to...
Not nicknaming Vagelos Field anything at all
Carolyn Lye (what would we do without her?)
Volleyball’s “crowd noise” … from its bench
Dana Funyak’s reliability
Ellen's defensive principles
Getting some pop
Jimmy’s O-line experience
Julian Harrell’s free throw abilities
FIELD HOCKEY IS MY NEW FAVORITE SPORT!!
Rudy Fuller impersonators ... and the REAL Rudy Fuller's Ability To Use The DP Comments Section
Jerome Allen's defensive principles
Happy Thanksgiving from DP Sports! We have a lot to be thankful for on this day of thanks, so much that we're spreading out our blessings over three days. Today's part 1 focuses on transvestites, porn stars and a few considerably more wholesome things as well. Look for parts 2 and 3 to come tomorrow and Friday.
I am thankful for every last one of our writers and editors this calendar year, and, without further adieu, here's what we're collectively thankful for this holiday season:
Kyle Wilcox’s resilience
Max Kurtzman's Twitter feed
The Iron Sheik
Our next centerpiece...
Odd camera angles
The difference between Marilyn Monroe and a dog
The Price Is Right losing horn
Part-time Swamis, Full-time porn stars
Follow along as Penn basketball (1-3) takes on Niagara (1-4) at the Palestra as the Quakers look to nab their first home win of the season.
Penn welcomes Antoine Mason and Niagara to the Palestra on Tuesday, and the Quakers should be shaking in their boots. Here's why:
1. His scoring ability
If Penn State guard Tim Frazier was able to tear the Quakers' defense apart, then Mason should have an even bigger day. Mason comes in averaging 31.2 points per game. His low scoring game of the season was still a solid 25 points against Buffalo.
2. Getting to the line
After only getting to the line 7.8 times per game last season, Mason's averaging 12 free throws per game this season. The Quakers may have no choice but to foul him if he is getting into the lane easily.
3. His father's game
Mason is the son of former New York Knicks' standout Anthony Mason. After three seasons averaging 16.7, 15.1 and 18.7 respectively, Antoine has broken out in his senior season, following after his father, Anthony, who finally averaged double-digits in his fourth year with the Knicks.
4. His shooting percentage
The most impressive part of Mason's game so far this season has been his efficiency. He's shooting 50 percent from the field, and he's averaged 31 points on just 20 shots per game.
5. His effort
Read my fellow Sports Editor Ian Wenik's article on Mason and learn about Mason's passion.
Thursday's announcement that Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky will retire effective June 30 after 20 years in the position got plenty of feedback from fellow players, coaches and athletic directors alike. Now we hear from Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who coached Penn with Bilsky as AD from 1994-2006, and Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage, a Penn basketball teammate of Bilsky's in 1970-71.
Dunphy: Steve Bilsky has overseen many dynamic changes at the University of Pennsylvania over the last 20 years and the impact that he has had, both as a player and as an administrator, clearly shows that he has served the University well. What a great career.
Littlepage: "Steve has had a great career in leading the University of Pennsylvania athletics program over the past twenty years. His years as a basketball player served him well for his role as their Director of Athletics in that he understood, better than most people, the institutional culture and what factors would facilitate success. As a player Steve was a guy who made things happen. If you look at what has been accomplished during his time as Penn's Athletics Director, it is clear he's also made things happen as an administrator. The academic success of the student-athletes, the competitive success of the teams and individual athletes, and the progress made in facility development have all been very impressive"
The Good: Cornell QB Jeff Mathews
After a legendary 548 yard, five touchdown performance in his last visit to Franklin Field, the signal-caller was somehow even better in his last collegiate game. The NFL prospect had his way with the Quaker defense, throwing for 467 yards and 4 touchdowns as well as tallying a rushing touchdown. He nearly accounted for The Ugly as well, throwing a pick-six on third down with barely over a minute remaining in the game.
The Bad: The third quarter
The Quakers lost their halftime lead after being outscored 14-0 in the third. Ryan Becker was unable to duplicate his first-half magic and was eventually pulled for freshman Alek Torgersen in the fourth quarter. Torgersen was impressive, but it was too little, too late for the Red and Blue.
The Ugly: Kicking
Cornell had their only attempt of the day blocked, while Connor Loftus’ 40 yard attempt into the wind didn’t even reach the goalpost. It got even uglier, however, with the game on the line. Penn needed just an extra point to tie the game with 1:11 left, but Loftus’ kick was blocked. The ensuing onside kick attempt was recovered by Cornell, which went on to win by one.
Today the Penn Women's Basketball team takes on No. 5 Notre Dame at the Palestra. Just Penn's second game of the season, they will be facing a Fighting Irish team that is preparing for its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
It's the final game at Franklin Field for the Quakers, and the Red and Blue will be looking to end the careers of seniors like Billy Ragone on a high note. Can they pull off a victory against Cornell and star quarterback Jeff Mathews? Follow myself and fellow Sports Editor Steven Tydings and find out:
We bring you Penn basketball all the way from Iowa, as the Quakers (1-2) take on the 25th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0). Follow along for live updates!
1. Penn Park
Steve Bilsky may be remembered for poor head coach hirings following the departure of Fran Dunphy, but his mark was made in the creation of Penn Park. Bilsky always had an eye for new facilities, and Penn Park is the crown jewel of them all. He took what used to be an unattractive practice field and an essentially unused parking lot and turned it into a huge selling point for the University. For athletes, it makes practicing a lot easier. For club sports, teams finally have a place to practice. And for members of the Penn community, it’s a beautiful place to go run, walk or sit and watch a game.
2. Basketball’s glory days
Nine Ivy titles. While it’s easy to look at where the men’s program is currently — fallen behind a Harvard team that is willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the NCAA tournament — Penn used to be the team in the Ancient Eight that others feared. During Bilsky’s tenure, the Quakers made it to the Big Dance nine times, including a stretch of seven in nine years between 1999 and 2007. Bilsky is a basketball mind, playing for the 1971 team that made a splash in the NCAAs.
3. Softball and field hockey’s new fields
Two programs that historically have not had success have been given a jolt following the new fields that Bilsky had built for them. In its first year in its new stadium in Penn Park, softball went to the NCAA tournament, while field hockey had one of its best-ever seasons while playing on Vagelos Field. Softball is in an incredibly convenient location, and the view couldn’t be better, while field hockey used to have to play on Franklin Field’s turf, which was the wrong type for the sport. Now, coach Colleen Fink can attract bring opponents, since the teams won’t have to deal with bad turf.
4. Football dominance
While coach Al Bagnoli should be credited the most with the football program’s resurgence, Bilsky has worked hard to make sure that the product on the field stayed the course while trying to make the atmosphere at football games as fun as possible. He struck the right cord this year, scheduling Princeton for Homecoming on a day when Penn basketball tipped off its season as well. It paid off, as Penn had the largest Homecoming crowd since 1996.
5. Keeping the old looking new
The Palestra and Franklin Field are engrained in Penn culture. Nothing is going to change that. Still, it’s the job of the Athletic Director to make sure that the fan experience doesn’t feel old. Bilsky has made numerous upgrades in Penn Athletics’s two largest structural assests. The Palestra feels like a modern arena now, what with the new sound system, new chairbacks, a large scoreboard and a Chickie’s and Pete’s. Franklin Field has been taken care of under Bilsky’s watch as well, with turf being replaced every few years and additions to the scoreboard and concessions as well.
6. Rhodes Field
With Penn men’s soccer playing in a NCAA tournament game later today, Bilsky’s creation of Rhodes Field seems more pertinent now than ever. The field is in an accessible location, has a great view of the city and has enough amenities to hold a big game like the one tonight.
According to Penn Athletics, Bilsky’s last fundraising campaign earned the University $125 million, allowing for all of the most recent projects completed during his time as Athletic Director.
8. Ivy League’s deal with NBC Sports
Bilsky has always been a major voice amongst the Ivy athletic directors, and his impact was felt when the league landed a deal with NBC Sports, where the network would show both football and basketball games each year.
9. Ivy League Digital
Penn’s own streaming network had been strong for a few years when Ivy League Digital launched before this semester. The release was a culmination of pushes from Bilsky and other athletic directors to build one online network that would allow for fans to watch any Ivy game they may choose.
10. The number speaks for itself
Bilsky’s teams have won 71 Ivy League titles under his watch. His focus has been on football and basketball — that’s the barometer Penn Athletics uses for success — but success has been far reaching.
President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price have announced that Penn Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky is retiring, effective June 30, 2014.
“For decades now, Steve Bilsky has lived and loved Penn Athletics and the University has been incomparably the better for it,” Gutmann said in a press release. “The continuing success of so many of our teams and our student-athlete alumni speaks volumes to what Steve has achieved in his years at Penn.
Bilsky was hired as Director of Athletics in 1994 after working in the athletics department for George Washington for 11 years.
"It has been a privilege to serve for twenty years as the Director of Athletics of my alma mater," Bilsky said in a press release."I am proud of our many achievements for which I would like to thank the coaches, staff and student-athletes whom I have had the honor and pleasure to represent. My association with Penn over many decades is responsible for many of the wonderful personal and professional joys I have had in my life."
During his time at Penn, Bilsky has overseen major overhauls to Penn’s athletic facilities, including renovations to the Palestra and Franklin Field.
Furthermore, the addition of Penn Park as well as the construction of soccer’s Rhodes Field, baseball’s Meiklejohn Stadium came during Bilsky’s tenure.
And Penn's Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics recently finished its Campaign for Penn Athletics, raising $125 million that will help Penn well into the future.
"Steve has show again and again that not only does he have tremendous vision, but the business acumen, will, and determination to make that vision a reality," softball coach Leslie King said. " Here at Penn we have some of the finest athletic facilities in the country. That was Steve's vision and now his legacy. We will miss his leadership."
Penn’s athletics programs have also seen strong results under Bilsky, winning 71 Ivy championships, including a league-leading eight in football and nine in men’s basketball.
“After a 20-year relationship, I will certainly miss Steve," football coach Al Bagnoli said. "He has been a tremendous supporter of our football program and our entire athletic department.
"His guidance, vision, leadership, and commitment to our student-athletes and coaches have been extraordinary and he remains a primary reason why we have enjoyed so much success with our program.”
Bilsky also spent his undergraduate years at Penn as a member of the men’s basketball program from 1969-71. In his final season at Penn, the All-Ivy guard was part of a squad that went to the Elite Eight. Bilsky graduated from the Wharton school in the class of '71.
Penn will soon announce the formation of a consultative committee to guide the selection process for Bilsky's successor.
"He has forever changed the face of Penn Athletics with his efforts to improve the facilities, coaching positions, and experience of our student-athletes," men's soccer coach Rudy Fuller said. "I will forever be indebted to Steve for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a great soccer program, Athletic Department, and University. I wish him the very best going forward"
Junior captain Duke Lacroix was named the first Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year on Wednesday November 20. As a key component of Penn’s offensive, the title is nothing but fitting. Having earned a career-high 19 points this season with eight goals and three assists, Lacroix has demonstrated himself as a fierce offensive player.
He becomes the sixth in Ancient Eight history to earn both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in a single career. He is only the second Penn player to earn an Ivy Player of the Year, with the first being Matthew Haefner who earned the title in 2002.
Overall, seven members of the Red and Blue received All-Ivy selections — more than any other member of the Ancient Eight. The last time the Quakers received seven selections was in 2010, the rookie season of the current seniors. The selection numbers only add to the similarities between that season and the current one. These two similar seasons bookend the seniors time at a part of the Penn squad.
Lacroix was unanimously named first-team All-Ivy by Ivy head coaches in addition to midfielder Louis Schott and defender and captain Jonny Dolezal. Alongside Lacroix attacking, freshman forward Alec Neumann was named second-team All-Ivy and Matt Poplawski and the Kinn brothers, Austin and Tyler, received honorable mention All-Ivy selections.
The Quakers received recognition for both offensive and defensive players showing the true depth of the squad. Coming off of a 3-13 season in 2012, these awards are just the icing on the cake to an Ivy Title and home first round NCAA tournament game for the Quakers. These results were anything but predicable a mere three months ago.
And while the Red and Blue have impressed the Ivy League, now they move on to face a new opponent. Their next test will come tomorrow at 7pm at home against Providence.