The year 2005 has not been kind to Temple’s finest. Since the beginning of this year, the national headlines have been spattered with the sexual assault allegations to Bill Cosby, and now, with the growing frenzy surrounding men’s basketball coach John Chaney, the Temple Owl’s reputation is in danger of having its wings clipped.
University officials stepped in today and lengthened Chaney’s self-imposed suspension. After learning the extent of the season-ending injury to Saint Joseph’s center John Bryant, Temple president David Adamany extended Chaney’s suspension to the end of the regular season. Under high scrutiny from St. Joe’s and Atlantic Ten Conference officials, as well as the national media, the Temple hierarchy took action to ensure that this university’s reputation is not diminished.
Even outside Philadelphia, Temple basketball has always been known for being extremely physical. While many claim Villanova and St. Joe’s as the city’s biggest rivalry, Temple-St. Joe’s matchups have been far from friendly competition lately. The tension was palpable from the tip Tuesday.
Some basketball enthusiasts agree with Chaney that the Hawks do set illegal screens, and did long before Tuesday’s debacle. But Chaney’s actions cannot be condoned. Not only are the renegade actions something to be critical of, but the comments made toward Nehemiah Ingram in the post-game conference were personally offensive. The eleven men granted scholarships to play basketball at this university are given those opportunities because they have an exceptional talent.
While Chaney is known to berate his players in private, to publicly refer to some of his players as “goons” is reprehensible.
Though Chaney should be applauded for suspending himself and offering to pay Bryant’s medical bills, he should publicly apologize for calling Ingram a “goon.” Ingram will hear the name from students and fans until he leaves Temple and beyond. And for a 22 year old, that’s unfair.
Still, Adamany’s decision to close the front two rows of the Cherry and White student section is not entirely unreasonable. An injured player should not be spat upon, but the actions of a few ignorant students should not affect the rest of the passionately rooting student body. The students who spit on Bryant should be disciplined, whether by banishment from the student section, the stripping of their season tickets, or some sort of discipline committee hearing. Closing off the front rows is a slap in the face to the majority of the student body, which comes to games only to cheer the Owls to victory.
Right now, this incident looks to be the high – or low – point of the 2004-2005 men’s basketball season. However, it does not have to be this way.
The Owls can still win the A-10 tournament and earn an NCAA berth. Guard Mardy Collins is being considered for all-America honors.
What everyone, from Chaney to Adamany to the students, needs to do is focus on moving past this and ensure the high reputation of the men’s basketball program, as well as the university itself, maintains the high standards we all know it is capable of.
Greg Otto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.