They still practiced.
Men’s gymnastics coach Fred Turoff had a meeting with Associate Athletic Director Pat Kraft at 1:05 p.m, where Turoff was informed of the forthcoming elimination of the program he’s coached for the last 38 seasons. The student-athletes found out at 1:45 p.m. in a meeting in the Student Pavilion. After everyone was in the know, Turoff talked to his players and reminded them they still have final exams to prepare for.
After that, the team went to McGonigle Hall and trained for their upcoming season. Turoff said the news “cast a pall” over the session.
“They’re terribly disappointed,” Turoff said. “Some of them were tearing. Nobody was in a buoyant mood.”
Nine full-time coaches will lose their jobs as a result of the eliminations. Turoff was informed of the meetings by an email sent to him yesterday.
“There was no indication to me… that it was only directed to certain coaches,” Turoff said.
While Turoff said the news came as a surprise to him, it didn’t surprise former baseball coach Skip Wilson, who won 1,034 games in 46 seasons at Temple. Wilson, whose name adorns the soon-to-be disused baseball field at the Ambler Sports Complex, met with current coach Ryan Wheeler for lunch earlier this year and gave Wheeler a warning that turned out to be prescient.
“I suggested that he should be aware, because his job could go,” Wilson said.
Crew coach Gavin White is in his 34th year as head coach. Both White and Turoff are Hall of Fame members of their respective sports. They are two of the three longest-tenured head coaches at the university and represent a combined 83 years at Temple as coaches and student-athletes.
The other head coaches that are losing their job are rowing’s Rebecca Grzybowski – in her third year at Temple and second at head coach – baseball’s Ryan Wheeler – in his third year at Temple, all as head coach – and softball’s Joe DiPietro – in his sixth year as an Owl, all as head coach. Track & field head coach Eric Mobley will not be losing his job, as the women’s track & field team is not being eliminated.
The four other coaches affected include track & field coaches and are assistants whose names were not specified by athletic communications.
One student leaving the meeting where they heard the news was upset that the revenue sports get “everything.” Even in earlier years, athletes in non-revenue sports felt slighted compared to their revenue counterparts.
“We were like stepchildren to football and basketball,” Wilson said. “They didn’t even seem to care about us. We were secondary.”
“I don’t know what the heck they’re trying to prove,” Wilson added.
Turoff said he didn’t know if he’s retire at the end of the season. He said he is involved with other non-college programs and he is “hireable in any gymnastics program.” He said he didn’t know if any of the student-athletes intend to transfer. With the elimination of Temple’s program, there will be 16 Division I men’s gymnastics programs in the country.
“If the situation stays as it is, I’m sure some of them are going to transfer out,” Turoff said.
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.