Many of us are familiar with the sudden panic of being unprepared. You show up to class without checking the syllabus, only to find out you have a test that day. There’s no time to draw from the resources you’ve acquired over the semester, such as your notes or the textbook. But what if it wasn’t your fault, and a surprise exam sits in front of you?
After speaking with several coaches from the seven sports that were cut without warning on Dec. 6, it seems many of them feel the same way.
Despite varying sizes and organizing structures of those sports’ alumni networks and supporters, many of them agreed that if the situation had been handled differently, they’d have more of a fighting chance with their increased support in the face of elimination.
“We weren’t given any indication,” said men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff. “Nobody has said to me, ‘You have to raise more money.’ If that ultimatum were given to us, my alumni and the alumni of the other sports would have supported.”
Turoff categorized his alumni as giving and active.
“I’ve exceeded my fundraising efforts each year,” Turoff said, “Last year, I had to bring in $29,000 and I brought in $59,000. It paid for our spring trip and our trip to the NCAA championships.”
That’s impressive, and may indicate that if given some warning that Turoff’s sport and job were in jeopardy, he and the sport’s supporters might have been able to do something to raise more funds independent of Temple.
Instead, the alumni and supporters of the sports that were cut were left scrambling.
“Because the board approved this before we were told, it didn’t give us enough time to alert our alumni and fans that this is a desperate situation,” Turoff said.
And for the sports whose alumni networks weren’t as organized before the cuts, the situation become much direr.
“We have a very loyal following, but there’s not enough people,” said Brian Perkins, assistant coach of the men’s crew team. “We’ve always been capped at 32 athletes, and some years we’ve only had 15.”
Despite the relatively small number of alumni, Perkins also felt confident in his alumni network’s ability to keep his team going.
“I actually think that if the administration had come to the seven sports individually and said, ‘This is what the study says, but we’ll give you two years to raise your own funds,’ we would have been able to do something,” Perkins said.
But it’s been clear that giving these sports a chance, no matter how small or unlikely, wasn’t on the agenda.
“Obviously, the more time you have, the more assets you’ll be able to fund,” said Brian DeDominici, assistant coach of the women’s rowing team. “That wasn’t necessarily the point in what they were doing. They weren’t looking for us to find a way to fix the problem, they were going to find a solution.”
Surely each sport is different, and it’s entirely possible that none of the seven sports would have been able to raise enough money to save themselves, no matter how many alumni, fans and parents donated.
But a small window could have been made available.
“I could have networked more and got the word out,” said Joe DiPietro, coach of the softball team. “With everyone up and arms and trying to fight it, they would have answered the bell.”
Monica Kerrigan, mother of sophomore baseball player Jimmy Kerrigan and representative of the baseball team on the T7 Save Temple Athletics Council, said she wishes there had been some indication of what was going to happen.
“Give someone the opportunity to do damage control,” Kerrigan said, “If you feel there’s not enough money, let them raise the money. If you feel the facilities aren’t up to par, let them raise the money to get them up to par.”
Dan Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.