Year in review 2020: Sports

All Temple sports were canceled in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams implemented COVID-19 policies to play and some sports returned in the fall with delayed or shortened seasons.

Freshman guard Jeremiah Williams shoots the ball during the Owls' game against the New Jersey Institute of Technology at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 19. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

1. Temple coach Aaron McKie remembers Kobe Bryant

By Jay Neemeyer

Kobe Bryant, shown here in a game against the Washington Wizards in 2014, was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 at age 41. | SOURCE: Alexandra Walt via Flickr

On Jan. 26, the basketball world was rocked when former Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter accident. Temple University men’s basketball coach Aaron McKie, who was Bryant’s teammate for two seasons from 2005 to 2007, reacted to the news by releasing an official statement. Players such as Nate Pierre-Louis and Tai Strickland also reacted to the news on Twitter.  

2. AAC cancels conference tournament amid COVID-19 fears 

By Dante Collinelli 

On March 12, Temple University men’s basketball traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to play Southern Methodist in The American Athletic Conference Tournament. The conference canceled the entire tournament just hours before the Owls were supposed to play due to concerns regarding the nationwide spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which had yet to be designated as a pandemic. Later that day, the NCAA would cancel all winter and spring championship sports. 

3. Temple athletics adjusts to shutdown

By Jay Neemeyer 

Less than a week after the NCAA canceled all winter and spring championship sports on March 12, Temple Athletics advised all athletes to leave campus and go home, which coincided with the university moving all classes online and sending students who lived in on campus housing home. The NCAA also instituted a recruiting dead period, meaning all teams were unable to meet with recruits in person, which is still in effect today. 

4. Student-athletes can return to campus on June 22

By Dante Collinelli 

After student-athletes were sent home in March, they returned to campus on June 22 for voluntary workouts that players would not be penalized for missing. Temple University football held a workout with approximately 40 to 50 players. Temple Athletics instituted COVID-19 protocols, like social distancing and mandatory testing for every student-athlete who was working out to prepare for the season. 

5. The American postpones soccer, volleyball and cross country

By Isabella DiAmore

The American Athletic Conference announced that they will postpone men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball seasons until Spring 2021. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / FILE

On Aug. 25, The American postponed the fall seasons for Temple men’s and women’s soccer, cross country and volleyball. The conference had originally announced on Aug. 6 all sports would play in the fall. With the rest of fall sports canceled, Temple football was the only sport scheduled to play.

6. Temple Athletics face uncertain future amid COVID-19 restrictions

By Adam Aaronson

Stadium and field stands will be empty during the Fall semester, as fans will not be allowed to attend any sports games. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As The American continued with their fall football season despite other conferences canceling their seasons, it required Temple Athletics to implement various COVID-19 policies, like testing every player for COVID-19 at least once a week. The Return to Participation Committee also implemented a plan that educated athletes and coaches on COVID-19, provided personal protective equipment for medical staff and offered daily health screening for players entering a facility. 

7. NCAA announces start date for postponed fall sports

By Dante Collinelli 


The American announced the start dates for Temple men’s soccer, women’s soccer, cross country, volleyball and field hockey. Volleyball will be the first to start their season on Jan. 22, 2021, while the other sports will start in late January and early February. 

8. Temple women’s soccer players meet to discuss social justice issues

By Donovan Hugel

Junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski (left) and senior defender Arryana Daniels sit on the steps outside of the Aramark STAR Complex on Sept. 20. Gutowski and Daniels are the women’s soccer representatives for Athletes Advocating for Change. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, junior midfielder Hailey Gutowski and senior defender Arryana Daniels represented Temple women’s soccer on a AAC-wide Athletes Advocating for Change group. The group focused on having conversations about police brutality, voting rights and voter suppression. 

9. Temple football prepares for unique offense in first game

By Dante Collinelli 

Temple football players run drills on the field during practice at Geasey Field on Aug. 13, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After navigating through a long fall camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Temple football prepared for their first game of the season against Navy on Oct. 10. Despite missing players due to COVID-19 protocols throughout the fall, the Owls felt confident they would be properly prepared to play against the Midshipmen and their unique triple option offense. The Owls would lose the game 31-29.

10. Temple football to use season to raise awareness about systemic racism

By Adam Aaronson

Graduate student linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley stands on the field at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium after the Owls’ game against the University of North Carolina at the 2019 Military Bowl on Dec. 27, 2019. Graham-Mobley is the Owls for Justice representative for Temple football. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple football players started holding meetings every Wednesday and Friday to discuss systemic racism, social justice topics and current events. The team also voted to put a “Black Lives Matter” sticker on their helmets during games.

11. Temple to allow some fans at football games

By Isabella DiAmore

Redshirt-junior tight end Tyler Sear interacts with fans after the Owls’ game against Georgia Tech at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 13, 2019. A limited number of fans will return to Temple football games at the stadium this fall, but will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and will not have contact with players. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On Oct. 13, Temple Athletics announced fans would be allowed to attend home games at the Lincoln Financial Field in response to Philadelphia announcing it would loosen restrictions on crowd sizes. Families of players and coaches were allowed to attend the team’s home opener on Oct. 17. However, fans attending games didn’t last the whole season, as Temple Athletics announced a month later no fans could attend home games due to revised city COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes.

12. Temple men’s basketball prepares for second season facing roster overhaul 

By Adam Aaronson

The net of a basketball hoop sways after a ball passed through it during the Temple men’s basketball practice at the Liacouras Center on Oct. 29, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In November, Temple men’s basketball prepared for the start of their season with an uncertain start date and massive roster overhaul. The Owls needed to rely on a number of freshmen, like guards Jereimah Williams and Damien Dunn, to play valuable minutes. The team also planned to lean on returning players J.P. Moorman II and De’Vondre Perry, who were named team captains. 

13. Through adversity, Owls’ young players shine in blowout

By Dante Collinelli 

Freshman quarterback Kamal Gray makes a pass during the Owls’ game against East Carolina University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 21. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple football lost to East Carolina on Nov. 19 in a game that was everything but normal. The team announced it had suspended its starting quarterback just hours before kickoff, forcing fifth-string quarterback Kamal Gray to start. The start of the game was then delayed after a Temple player was rushed to Main Campus for a COVID-19 test after showing symptoms of the virus. Temple’s next game against Cincinnati would ultimately be canceled, ending the Owls’ season with a 1-6 record. 

14. Owls unable to contain Villanova offense in season opening loss 

By Josh Grieb

Freshman guard Jasha Clinton attempts a layup during the Owls’ game against Villanova University on Dec. 4. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple women’s basketball finally started their season against rival Villanova on Dec. 4. The game wasn’t on the Owls’ original schedule, but each team’s head coach worked together in order to schedule the game. The Owls lost 90-72 after they couldn’t contain the Wildcats’ high-powered offense. Temple is currently 2-3 overall and 2-0 in conference play. 

15. Temple men’s basketball win season opener against NJIT

By Adam Aaronson 

Freshman guard Jeremiah Williams shoots the ball during the Owls’ game against the New Jersey Institute of Technology at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 19. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In December, Temple men’s basketball kicked off their season after their games against Virginia Tech and Rhode Island were canceled. The Owls also paused all basketball activities for 14 days due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program. Temple won the game behind standout performances from guards Jeremiah Williams and Damian Dunn. The Owls are currently 1-1 and 0-1 in AAC play. 

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