Men’s basketball coach John Chaney’s actions Feb. 22 against Saint Joseph’s were out of line. This much is known. What is still debatable is how detrimental Chaney’s dismissal from his coaching position could be to the university.
Chaney imposed yet another suspension upon himself yesterday, this one for the duration of the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament. He said if injured Hawks forward John Bryant couldn’t play in the tournament, than neither could he coach. Temple president David Adamany had previously ordered Chaney to sit out the remainder of the regular season. Adamany concluded late last week that Chaney’s one-game self-imposed suspension was not nearly enough.
Chaney had to have known he would receive backlash for sending in backup center Nehemiah Ingram to regulate and retaliate against alleged illegal screens by the Hawks. That’s why he apologized a day later when he was fully cognizant of his actions.
Since the St. Joe’s incident, Temple fans and alumni have been mostly supportive of their Hall of Fame coach. Meanwhile, national media and college basketball analysts have transformed the word “goon” into a household name. Some members of the media are even calling for Chaney’s career to come to a close. Now this is sad.
Following Saturday’s game against UMass, junior co-captain Mardy Collins implored the media to recall all that Chaney has done over his career, rather than one incident. Ingram himself said he loved Chaney like a father. Obviously, the Owls have no hard feelings for their coach.
It’s possible the media feels Chaney is past his prime. But if the coach were to lose his job, the university would suffer for an indefinite period of time.
First and most importantly, the university would suffer financially. The university prides itself on having Chaney as men’s basketball coach. He built the program into a nationally recognized team, earning it’s first and only No. 1 ranking in 1988 under his watch. To say the university would be better off without Chaney at the helm is preposterous. To think the team would fill as much as half of the Liacouras Center’s seats every home game is equally confounding. The team doesn’t even do that now, with Chaney.
And without Chaney, Temple would lose a good chunk of its fan base. Although the team has endured four consecutive seasons without an NCAA Tournament berth, it was Chaney who got them there 17 straight years. He’s taken the Owls to the Elite Eight five times. He earned his 700th career win last season. Whether you’re a fan of a Pac-10 team or a nationally ranked ACC squad, you hear Chaney’s name and you associate it with Temple University.
Believe it or not, Chaney has a lot of respect in the A-10. He has just as much respect among the coaches of the Big 5 city schools. John Chaney is the signature of this university. Further suspension or dismissal from his coaching position would hurt the University more than it would help.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.