Longtime former men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy has been named as the Owls’ interim athletic director.
On June 3, it was announced that former AD Pat Kraft was hired for the same position at Boston College, but has agreed to stay at Temple until July 1 to help ease the transition for Dunphy and his staff.
Dunphy, who retired in 2019 after coaching the men’s basketball team for 13 seasons, was surprised by the request from Temple President Richard Englert to become the interim AD.
“There was a little bit of surprise,” Dunphy said. “Why me? Why do they think I would be good for this? I went back to the President a couple of times and said ‘Are you sure I’m the right guy?’ He kept saying yes and that he had a lot of backing for it. But it’s a surprise a little bit and then you think about it and say ‘OK, I’ll jump in there and do it’. I appreciate the ask, that’s all, and they have confidence in me.”
According to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dunphy isn’t expected to be a candidate for the permanent AD job, but that could change based on results. Temple is hoping to have a permanent AD named within 90 days.
“I’m very humbled by the President’s request that I think about this position,” Dunphy said. “I’m not a very good ‘no’ sayer, my tendency is to say yes to just about everything. Over the next however many months or whatever the time frame will be, I think they’ll have a great opportunity to interview many, many great candidates for this position. It’s a great job. It’s a hard job, it’s a very challenging position but I think there’s going to be some great candidates that present themselves… I’m a fill in candidate and I’m happy to do it. I just hope I can help.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the social justice efforts encompassing the country right now, Dunphy is walking into a situation where more non-sports questions are being asked than sports questions.
Temple cancelled all winter and spring sports last school year, losing thousands of dollars as a result. The expectation is that college football will be played one way or another this upcoming fall, but it is yet to be seen if fans will be allowed along with any other extra precautions.
Englert announced on June 2 that the university will open up in the fall, with larger classes moving to online, and smaller classes being in-person but with social distancing taking place and everyone wearing face masks.
“The coronavirus has put something on us that we’ve never seen before,” Dunphy said. “When it first hit, you were saying how can I help and we were told to stay home and do nothing and that was hard, it was really hard, because our nature is to run and help in any way that we can and we were told that this isn’t how this is gonna work…. Now we’re opening things up and we’re going to try a lot of different things. We’re trying to follow the best practices by people that are a lot smarter than me and listen to the health people and doctors on how we can best help our students and student-athletes. Their health and safety is primary in this situation. We’re trying to learn in all of this.”
Dunphy added that he is paying attention to how Philadelphia’s professional sports team are handling the pandemic and the precautions they’re taking. Temple football plays at Lincoln Financial Field, the stadium for the Philadelphia Eagles.
On June 1 , a seemingly peaceful protest turned violent on Interstate 676 as police officers tear gassed and pepper sprayed protestors. Just three days later, Philadelphia policeman Joseph Bologna used a baton to beat a Temple student’s head and another officer used his knee to pin the student’s face to the ground. Bologna has since surrendered to face charges of aggravated assault and was suspended with intent to dismiss.
Temple student-athletes have been at the forefront of some of these protests. Candus Burks (track and field), Nina Carotenuto (field hockey), Max Cavallucci (football), Isaiah Graham-Mobley (football), Hailey Gutowski (women’s soccer), Manny Ikeocha (men’s soccer), Baleigh Jean-Philippe (volleyball), Matt Kristick (golf), Nicolette Mayo (women’s basketball), Lola Miggins (cheerleading), Jackie Terpak (gymnastics) and Lorette Thomas (cheerleading) released a statement on behalf of Temple’s athletics department on June 5 and helped to organize a peaceful protest that weekend.
“I want to support those student athletes,” Dunphy said. “I was told in one of the many zoom calls I’ve had over the last couple of weeks that the Million Man march was a couple of years back and I was told that I said to my players, ‘You should go and represent and we’ll just not have practice that particular day.’ I didn’t think anything of it and that was my stance then and it’s my stance now. I’m supportive of everything we can do for our young student-athletes who I’ve learned so much from.…. We need to have as much empathy as we possibly can for each other and respect each other. Our humanity has to be there and we have to take care of one another. We have a phenomenal opportunity to change so many things that aren’t right in the world.”
Dunphy’s first test as AD will come soon, as fall-sport athletes will report back to campus on Monday for voluntary workouts. That group will be tested for the coronavirus on arrival at Edberg-Olson Hall.
Dunphy has a lot on his plate, and will depend on his staff for a lot of help.
“When i was asked to do this, I can’t say I was excited,” Dunphy said. “I was humbled because of the daunting nature of this task. We’re in very challenging times in so many different ways, so I hope I can help. My job is to help in any way that I can. As I met with everybody on staff yesterday over Zoom, some of my thoughts were that we all have to be as good a teammate as we can be. We all work together and want to make great decisions for the world…. I just want to be a good teammate to everybody.”