The season never ends for an athletic director.
This coming June, Bill Bradshaw will begin his eighth year at the helm of Temple Athletics. Since taking the job in 2002, Bradshaw has hired new coaches in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, has aligned the football program in a new conference and has seen 22 Temple teams make the NCAA Tournament. His contract was recently extended through the 2011-2012 season.
With the academic year winding down, Bradshaw expounded on his highlights from the 2008-2009 year, the future of the football team, internal expectations, Temple’s media exposure and his plans for the coming semester.
The Temple News: What was the best moment this year in Temple Athletics?
Bill Bradshaw: Three years ago, I would have said it was five wins in football, but we’re all disappointed by five wins in football. [So], you’d probably have to say the men’s basketball team winning its second consecutive Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament title.
TTN: What was the worst moment this year?
BB: Oh, the Hail Mary in Buffalo, no question. That one play was the difference between Temple playing in Detroit in the Mid-American Conference Championship game and Buffalo playing. They were 6-2. We were 4-4. You do the math.
TTN: What adjustments have you had to make with Temple’s current economic situation?
BB: Well, a salary freeze, that’s one. We’ve had about a 10 percent reduction in our subsidy, 5 percent since the economic downturn. We had a half a million dollars taken out of our subsidy, so that’s been a significant challenge. It’s involved a number of cuts, and it’s going to involve some significant cuts on things that I can’t even announce right now for next year. Those will involve some significant changes in how we do business, without having to drop sports and cut a lot of positions.
TTN: What do you think about this year’s fan attendance?
BB: For student participation, it was exceptional. We had the third straight year of that trending up. In terms of attendance at games, we didn’t have the exceptional schedule we’ll have next year. [So], for football, not as much. For basketball, I would say a slight increase. I think we’ll see more next year.
TTN: Hyperbole aside, does football just need to win now?
BB: Yes. And that could have been done last year. Winning, no question, is what’s going to steer it. But it’s just a matter of time, in terms of winning. It’s all there to win.
TTN: With that said, how high is the ceiling, in terms of interest, for the football team in a city like Philadelphia?
BB: We don’t know. We’ve tested everything but winning. We’ve tried billboards. We’ve tried television advertising. We’ve tried everything here, except winning. So no one can say to you, if you win, you’ll put 30,000 a game [at Lincoln Financial Field]. We don’t know. What we think, and what Philadelphia says in this market, is if you win, we’ll come out.
TTN: Would it help to play more attractive teams?
BB: They wouldn’t come out for a West Virginia game from the Big East five years ago. So with the MAC and winning, it’s a whole new dynamic. It’s a whole new opportunity that we haven’t tested. I believe people will come out. Does that mean it’s going to be over 30,000 a game? I don’t think so. But I do believe that our formula of four non-conference games that you can drive to, and those fans can drive to Philadelphia, and a schedule of eight MAC games is a pretty good formula for us to be as successful as possible in this market. We are the only Division I-A college football team. And what is Philadelphia missing, in my opinion? College football. It’s the only thing Philadelphia hasn’t had, and that’s because of Temple. We haven’t been successful. We haven’t won. We haven’t made it important to go on Saturdays to the same place they’ll line up and wait on Sundays. And we haven’t tested that by winning.
TTN: How do you think the MAC’s television exposure is?
BB: Temple’s never had more exposure in football than we had since we joined the MAC. We’ve never appeared on those [ESPN] telecasts. Last year, we were on four times. This year, we’ll be on three or four. When we were in the Big East, we weren’t on television, so I think that’s going to develop as we win.
TTN: And with that, are you pleased with the television exposure the A-10 has?
BB: We’re not completely satisfied with that because some of the local television hasn’t been what it was in the past. That could be better. In terms of national exposure, ESPN cut the number of opportunities for the A-10 two years ago, but we’ve been able to get Temple some exposure by playing teams like Kansas or Duke that ESPN has wanted to do. We’ll continue to play a strong non-conference schedule, which will give us the exposure. Then, if we’re at the top of the conference, we’ll get a lot of those slotted ESPN national games.
TTN: Is just making the NCAA Tournament good enough for the men’s basketball team?
BB: In men’s basketball, we hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2001. Now, if you said when John Chaney resigned, you’ll be in the Tournament two of the next three years, people would have said, ‘that’s successful.’ But we’re here, and we’ve raised the bar. So, we’re raising the bar on what we consider success, and just getting into the NCAA Tournament is not enough.
TTN: Does that mean you want to get on the same level as the Pitt’s and Penn State’s of the world?
BB: We want to be the best we can be. That’s what I would say, without comparing us to anyone. Our expectations, internally, are very high.
TTN: Is there enough interest in women’s basketball in the Temple community?
BB: Most of the people on the Board of Trustees or people in the administration believe that we should draw more people for women’s basketball. Across the board in athletics, we feel we should be drawing more. I’m disappointed in how the area teams draw and how the conference teams draw [in women’s basketball], but we’re no worse. I still think we can do better.
TTN: Are you worried about losing Tonya Cardoza after the immediate success she’s had?
BB: We will never be insulated from losing successful coaches. You look around the country [with all the moves]. Why would we be insulated from that? I guess it says it’s a good thing when your program is so good that the person leading you someone else wants.
TTN: How important is winning for the non-revenue teams like soccer, lacrosse and tennis?
BB: We judge our sports by the commitment we have. So, you look at the kind of salaries we pay, the kind of scholarships, the facilities, the conference, all those things really tell us, internally, how we’re doing. That doesn’t mean those coaches have tenure, because we’re judging our coaches in those programs on academic performance, rules compliance and athletic performance. But we’re not as quick to make those changes just for teams not winning.
TTN: Is there one non-revenue sport that should get more attention?
BB: Sure, but we’re realistic enough to know that we’re not in Dayton, Ohio. We’re not in Champaign, Ill. We’re in Philadelphia. You really have to be exceptional here with the kind of competition not only in the intercollegiate area but [professionally] to capture this town. There should more attendance and more interest in our other sports. I wish there were.
TTN: Do you have a final word on the year?
BB: Just to reiterate how pleased we are with the student body’s participation. We have a lot to look forward to. The best days are ahead. I think we’re seeing some traction, some momentum.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.