For sports without sponsorship, Owls are staying put

Teams welcome budget increases, but are otherwise unaffected by move.

The fencing team makes no move at the end of this season. The Owls are one of three teams not becoming members of the American Athletic Conference. | DANIEL PELLIGRINE / TTN
The fencing team makes no move at the end of this season. The Owls are one of three teams not becoming members of the American Athletic Conference. | DANIEL PELLIGRINE / TTN

For three sports at Temple, the move to the American Athletic Conference isn’t a move at all.

The crew, fencing and gymnastics teams will not be competing in The American next season. The newly formed conference doesn’t sponsor enough crew teams for competition, and fencing and gymnastics compete in divisions separate from conferences.

Players and coaches from all three teams said not much will be changing next season, but they all are hopeful that the switch to The American will bring forth budget increases.

“Well nothing is going to change, at least nothing that I know of,” senior rower Mike Mirabella said. “Nothing has really changed in my four years [at Temple].”

Crew coach Gavin White said that, with an increased budget, the team would greatly benefit as it continues to lobby for a new boathouse, a process that’s been ongoing with the city for five years, but appears to be near its closing stages.

“We will see,” White said. “We realize that it’s going to cost a lot of money.”

Men’s and women’s gymnastics will continue to compete in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Gymnasts said they’re fine with staying put while some of their student-athlete peers make a transition.

“Personally, I’m content being in the ECAC,” freshman Evan Eigner said. “I mean we’ve had a great history in the ECAC. The teams that we compete with, we have good rivalries. So I don’t really think that we’re missing out too much, because each year it’s a battle to win our conference cup.”

He added, “I don’t really know too much about [The American] so I don’t really know what that experience is, so it is kind of tough to say if we are missing out, but I think we are all pretty happy in the ECAC.”

From a coaching perspective, the athletic department’s move into The American is expected to increase the budget in all sports. With that budget increase comes the potential to host more home meets and help raise the recognition of the gymnastics program to the student body at Temple, women’s coach Aaron Murphy said.

“I’d love to give my women’s team an additional chance to showcase their sport and skills in front of a home crowd,” Murphy said. “Most other women’s programs out there have four to five home meets a year to publicize gymnastics and here at Temple we feel a bit deprived of that.”

The cost to host a home meet can total nearly $10,000 – a cost that is too extravagant within the program’s current budget to have more than two home meets a year. But with a potential budget increase, Murphy talked about the possibility of having a double-dual meet in which men’s and women’s gymnastics would compete together simultaneously against a school that also has a men’s and women’s gymnastics program.

“I’d have the men compete in that home meet with us to double the crowd’s energy in McGonigle [Hall] and show the student body of Temple how exciting a gymnastics meet can be,” Murphy said.

If the budget increase is still not substantial enough to host more home meets, men’s coach Fred Turoff has suggested revamping the team’s equipment in the gym.

“A home meet is going to cost us many thousands, and if the increase to our budget is only one or two thousand [dollars] it just means that I will probably replace a used mat or something,” Turoff said with a laugh.

As for fencing, the team will continue to compete against Division I schools from all conferences. Fencing is not part of any one conference and competes openly throughout the NCAA.

“It really doesn’t make any difference for us,” junior sabre Tasia Ford said. “Because we’ve never been in the same conference as the rest of the school, so we’ve always been completely different, no change for us.”

Along with coaches White, Murphy and Turoff, fencing coach Nikki Franke hopes there will be a budget increase.

“I hope there will be several increases but we don’t know yet,” Franke said.

John Murrow and Samuel Matthews can be reached at

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