Nestled deep within the halls on the third floor of 1300 residence hall on Cecil B. Moore, Temple men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy’s voice could be heard as half-asleep students made their way to class last semester.
No, these weren’t new living arrangements for the Owls’ second-year coach — it’s actually his first year teaching at the university. The 1970 La Salle graduate and former University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball coach from 1989-2006, previously served as a lecturer in the Wharton Executive Education program and in the management department of the Wharton School at Penn.
Last fall, Dunphy brought his hardwood skills into a Temple classroom, co-teaching an honors course entitled, “Management Theory and Practice: From the Locker Room to the Boardroom” along with Dr. Lynne Anderson last semester. The two are pairing up again next semester to teach another course. Fall registration starts Monday, March 24.
At 10 a.m. during a typical class last semester, students were far from groggy, mocking Dunphy’s red-and-white tie in a newspaper photo that circulated around the classroom.
“They’re engaging kids. They really tell you who they are.” Dunphy said. As a teacher, he said he feels, “You have to put yourself out there.”
In the open-discussion classroom atmosphere Dunphy emphasized that “sports are the great equalizer,” as he spoke about diversity not only on the court, but in the business world.
Students and teachers alike engaged in provocative topics such as race, beliefs and ethics of the business world.
“I don’t see color,” Dunphy told students, “I just think about people of goodness and quality.”
Although the class focuses on the business of sports, the topic of basketball often came up and Dunphy was able to provide insight into college athletics.
Students questioned Dunphy about his transition to Temple from a coaching and recruiting aspect, especially compared to that of former Temple men’s basketball coach and 2001 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee John Chaney. Dunphy blatantly answered, “Coaches must be colorblind, the team concept is essential.”
Dunphy then credited Chaney and former Georgetown University coach John Thompson — both black coaches — for creating diversity within sports, especially college basketball.
“There’s very little racism in our sport and that’s a nice thing,” Dunphy said.
As far as his transition to Temple, Dunphy said it “was easy because of coach Chaney. If Chaney opposed me coming to Temple I don’t think I would have come…”
Certainly the university appreciated the idea of Dunphy teaching a class. Dunphy, who earned his Masters at Villanova, is no newcomer when it comes to teaching off the court.
“I did this for seven semesters at Penn,” the former Quakers coach said. “So there were a couple of [Temple] professors who came up to me and wanted to do this thing. I just really enjoy learning and learning from the students.”
Dunphy was quick to note though, “I’m just part of the teaching group.”
His motivation to teaching comes from his quest to “learn more about what my student athletes go through in class.”
Dunphy said he enjoyed his experience last semester.
“I enjoy my time here. I have an engaging group.”
Throughout the course of the class last semester, Dunphy said he found himself becoming just another member of the group.
“We’re all in this together,” he said last semester. “You can touch so many levels of people. It’s just great to have something worthwhile to say.”
Dunphy has contributed to the university at all levels. He was asked to be an honorary guest speaker at the Fox School of Business’s “Bootcamp for Sports Entrepreneurs” in November 2007. At that event, Dunphy spoke in front of business professionals and students alike on the transition from coaching to teaching, as well as the overall business of the sport.
Professor by day, coach by night, Dunphy made the one block walk from 1300 to the Liacouras Center every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 a.m. for the team’s mid-afternoon practice.
“I do whatever I can for this university,” he said.
Matthew Nadu can be reached at email@example.com.