By ADAM BOOTH
The 2013-14 Penn Quaker season was one that started with much promise and ended up with much disappointment. The Quakers failed to win double-digit games for consecutive years and finished in the bottom half of the Ivy League standings.
The University experienced change on Monday, but on a larger scale than just its men’s basketball program. Dr. M. Grace Calhoun was introduced as the new Athletic Director of the University of Pennsylvania; she will be the first woman ever at an Ivy League institution to hold such a position.
Dr. Calhoun has had a long history of in the Ivy League, being a Brown graduate and Track & Field athlete for the Bears. She has worked at several universities including Indiana University, Lehigh and her current institution of Loyola University in Chicago. She will be active Athletic Director at Loyola until July 1st, when she takes over for current director Steve Bilsky who ran the program for 20 years.
The men’s basketball program was a topic of discussion as the press conference opened up to questions. When specifically asked how she plans on addressing the team’s situation she started out saying that “No changes are in the works” and that she is open to “giving everyone a fair shot.”
Penn coach Jerome Allen wasn’t present at the news conference until the end of the formal portion.
As Calhoun won’t be able to take over until the summer, it is pretty safe to say that Allen will be back next year as the head coach, albeit on a considerably warm chair.
The director to be also mentioned that she has “read the blogs,” which one can infer was a nod toward the Allen situation. Body language isn’t everything, but in relation to the press conference, the mention of the basketball team seemed to provoke a bit of a sterner and more calculated response.
Director Calhoun as well as Provost Vincent Price also expressed sentiments about bring the Big 5 back to the Palestra. Calhoun mentioned she had a good relationship with the athletic directors of the other Big 5 universities, including Dom DiJulia of Saint Joseph’s. DiJulia and Hawks head coach Phil Martelli have been long time champions of the idea of Big 5 games being played exclusively back at the Palestra.
If this press conference was any indication, Penn is on the verge of a nice kick-start across the board in athletics. Calhoun mentioned that she acknowledges the differences between revenue based and non-revenue based sports and that some accommodations have to be made for the sports that do make the money. Another inference can be made about that being a reference to the basketball program, Penn’s athletic usual moneymaker.
Allen was unavailable for comments on the new hire.
A new age begins in University City as M. Grace Calhoun, takes over the proud athletic history of the Penn Quakers. While much success is happening across the campus in sports, including the defending Ivy League Champions women’s basketball team, all eyes are on their male counterparts and how they will respond to this new change in leadership.