By Avery Maehrer (Danielle Nelson contributed to reporting.)
*This article is posted on The Temple News website.
President Theobald has called for a meeting with the seven cut athletic programs scheduled for Jan. 28, inviting the head coach and two student-athletes from each affected team.
Coaches say that they were notified through email that during the meeting they would each be given 15 minutes to give a presentation to Theobald, Athletic Director Kevin Clark and select members of the Board of Trustees. Members of the recently formed “T7 Council” – a group formed by parents and alumni to reverse the university’s decision to cut the seven teams – were invited to attend as well.
The meeting marks the first time since the December announcement of the cuts that Theobald and Clark are offering to meet with representatives from the affected programs.
“Dialogue can only help the situation,” baseball coach Ryan Wheeler said.
While Wheeler has had six of his top players transfer, softball coach Joe DiPietro’s roster has remained mostly intact. DiPietro said he is looking forward to the opportunity to look administrators in the eyes and plead his case.
“Up to this point, we haven’t seen anyone and no one has talked about anything,” DiPietro said. “My attitude is if we’re going down, we want to go down swinging. We want them to know that we’re not a dollar sign … we’ve got a bunch of great kids on our team.”
DiPietro picked senior and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Brooklin White, who he said can provide a voice to dismiss the administrators’ claims that the commute to Ambler was too much of a hassle. DiPietro also selected freshman Toni Santos to represent the team, due to an incident Santos claims she encountered when approaching Clark after the announcement of the cuts in which the first-year AD put his hand in her face and said that he couldn’t talk because he had a announcement of the cuts in which the first-year AD put his hand in her face and said that he couldn’t talk because he had a meeting.
“I would hope that it was going to be worthwhile meeting and that there’s going to be some resolution and that there’s actually going to be good dialogue to bring the team back,” DiPietro said.
“It could all be window dressing so they can say to the press, ‘Well, we gave them a chance to talk,’” DiPietro added.
Track & field coach Eric Mobley is going into the meeting without any expectations, he said.
“I am going in there to take full advantage of the opportunity to talk to the president and the board and then from that we will see what happens,” Mobley said.
Monica Kerrigan, a baseball representative for the T7 organization, remains pessimistic that anything of substance will come from the meeting.
“They’ve been inundated with emails because there was a call to action email that had gone out to supporters of Temple athletics, and with that I believe that the trustees, Clark and Theobald had no choice but to call a meeting because that was the only way to stop the barrage of emails,” Kerrigan said.
Despite Kerrigan’s doubts regarding what will result from the meeting, she said she remains hopeful that the discussion will give the administrators “food for thought.” Kerrigan’s son, Jimmy, is a sophomore on the baseball team.
After being denied requests to meet with Theobald and Clark, Kerrigan said she was able to schedule an appointment with executive senior associate athletics director Mark Ingram. During the meeting, Kerrigan claims that Ingram revealed that cuts had been in discussion since his second day on the job at Temple in 2012. One of Kerrigan’s biggest complaints stems from the fact that her son was recruited while the university was considering cutting the team.
Kerrigan said she is unsure if she will be among the T7 representatives in attendance at the meeting with Theobald due to there being others who may represent the group better than an “angry mom.” Should the T7 and others fail to save the disbanded programs, Kerrigan said that it will be “inevitable” that her son will transfer.
“There would be no reason to continue, nor would he want to be a Temple alumni,” Kerrigan said. “When something so wrong is done to you, why would you continue on with your education there?”
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