American releases two-division format, Temple in East

After a 2013-14 season that showcased four first-round NFL draft picks, the American Athletic Conference looks to follow their inaugural year with more improvements.

Among these improvements will be the two-division format announced Friday by the conference. The new East-West format will comprise of six teams in each division. The winners of their respective division will face off in the first conference championship game for The American.

The change, which was unanimously approved by conference’s chief executive officers, pitted Temple in the East division alongside Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina and South Florida.

In addition to conference play, the American has many formidable non-conference games, including the Owls’ season opener against Vanderbilt. In addition, The American will also face South Eastern Conference teams South Carolina and Texas A&M as well as Big 12 schools Missouri, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Temple, which finished the season tied with Memphis at a conference-worst 1-7 American record, will return top offensive performers including dual-threat sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker and senior running back Kenneth Harper.

In addition to the division alignment announcement, Aresco also announced that next year will implement an eighth referee for conference games and a new tiebreak procedure. The tiebreak procedure allows co-champions and rewarding the co-champion ranked highest by the College Football Playoff Committee with the automatic bowl bid for the American.

American announces women’s basketball format

It’s not as big of a change as the one the Owls faced a year ago with their move to a new conference, but the Owls’ second year in the American Athletic Conference will feature a few differences.

The American announced its scheduling model for the next two seasons, along with an 11-team conference championship bracket due to the additions of East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa Universities.

Each team will play an 18-game conference schedule, facing eight of ten opponents twice in home and home action, and another two once each. One of those single conference matchups in 2014-15 is guaranteed to be at home.

The complete schedule for the 2014-15 season won’t be released until August, but Temple will play every team in the conference twice with the exception of East Carolina and Tulsa. Temple will host East Carolina, so the Owls will have to go on the road to play Tulsa.

Temple, as well as the rest of the American teams, will have the same home and home opponents scheduled for the 2015-16 season, while the single-game opponents will switch sites, meaning Temple will travel to East Carolina and then play Tulsa at home after this upcoming season.

All 11 teams will play in the conference tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The tournament will be played March 6-9.

Games between the No. 9 and No. 8 seeds, the No. 10 and No. 7 seeds, and the No. 11 and No. 6 seeds will get things started on the sixth. The winners of each game will then play against the top three seeds, who get automatic byes into the quarterfinal round on Saturday. The No. 5 and No. 4 seeds will also face-off on Saturday.

Temple had a turbulent 2013-14 campaign, finishing 14-16 in the regular season, then bowing out with an early quarterfinal exit in the conference tournament via a 72-44 loss to the No. 3 seeded South Florida.

-Nick Tricome

American releases conference pairings

The American Athletic Conference announced its conference pairings today, determining the Owls’ conference slate for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

The announcement also introduced new members East Carolina University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa. Despite the added teams, The American will maintain its 18-game conference schedule, concluding that instead of expanding the schedule, each team will instead face eight of its 10 conference foes twice and the remaining two teams once.

This decision led to the determination that Temple will face Houston and Memphis once and the remaining eight twice, as they did last year.  The Owls will host Houston and play in Memphis.

The Owls lost leading scorer Dalton Pepper to graduation as well as leading rebounder and defensive anchor Anthony Lee to Ohio State. Temple will instead look to other options, such as a bona fide starter in junior guard Will Cummings and a proven sixth man in junior guard Quenton DeCosey to help improve their 4-14 conference record last year.

Cummings, a junior who averaged 34.4 minutes per game, will be the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 16.8 points per game on 45 percent shooting.

The conference championship tournament will be held May 12 through May 15 at The XL Central in Hartford, CT.

American commissioner Mike Aresco said the decision to hold the tournament on a weekend would help with traveling fans and ESPN coverage, which could potentially improve TV ratings and generate more revenue for the conference.

-EJ Smith

Owls release road-heavy schedule

Temple women’s soccer released their 2014 schedule for the upcoming fall season Tuesday.

The Owls begin their campaign Aug.18th versus Lafayette College at home in Ambler, a team they played to a scoreless draw last season.

Three of the first four games will be at Ambler, where Temple was 2-6 in a 2013 season that saw the Owls finish 6-12-1 overall.

After that stretch, the Owls will hit the road for eight consecutive road matches, including the Cornell Tournament in mid-September.  It’s a trend that will be present throughout the fall, as Temple will play 13 of its 20 games on the road.  The Owls will also never play more than two home matches in a row.
That being said, three matches will be in Philadelphia against Big 5 schools.  That, along with the quality of the schedule, has coach Seamus O’Connor in an optimistic mood.
“I am very happy with the quality and variety of playing styles we will face in our 2014 non-conference schedule,” O’Connor said in an interview with “Having three games against other Philadelphia schools is great preparation for the intensity we will face in our American Athletic Conference games.”
That conference schedule will start at Cincinnati on Sep. 25th, and will continue through the end of the season, excluding a road fixture at Delaware State University on Oct. 22nd.
-Steve Bohnel

Volleyball releases schedule

When volleyball kicks off its recently released schedule, the Owls will be greeted with a potent slate of contests in the early going.

The team will kick off action with four tournaments in a month-long span before it sees American Athletic Conference competition.

The Owls will open the season at Syracuse University with the Syracuse Invitational, in which they’ll play Niagara and Syracuse on August 30, followed by Delaware State the following day.

The Owls will then return to friendly confines September 5 and 6, as they host the Temple Invitational with bouts against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Princeton and Holy Cross.

The team will then head north to the LIU Brooklyn Invitational on September 12 , playing Northern Kentucky, hosts LIU-Brooklyn and Boston College. The last of the four tournaments is the annual Big 5 Tournament, in which the Owls will take on familiar foes in La Salle, Villanova and Penn September 19 and 20.

After an even 9-9 finish in conference play last season, Temple will open up its American schedule with four straight road matches against Connecticut, newly-added East Carolina, Central Florida and South Florida.

The Owls’ conference home opener is October 10 against Cincinnati.  The season will conclude with a home match on November 28 against Houston.

-Greg Frank

Merritt among offseason departures

In an interview with The Temple News, redshirt sophomore guard Monaye Merritt confirmed that she has officially transferred from Temple University and will attend Nova Southeastern University in the upcoming fall semester.

“[Nova Southeastern] is a winning program,” Merritt said. “There’s a slot immediately for me to come and play. My major [of Kinesiology] there is really good. When I went down there, I was able to be myself and it felt natural.”

The Philadelphia native from Friends’ Central High School is now the fourth Owl from the 2013-14 roster to leave the program and the seventh departing player in the last two seasons. Rateska Brown, Jacquilyn Jackson, May Dayan, Leah Horton, Meghan Roxas and Sally Kabengano complete the list of non-returning Temple players between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.

By transferring to a Division II program in Nova Southeastern, Merritt will have the opportunity to play immediately in the upcoming season and she will spend her remaining two years of eligibility with the Sharks.

Serving as the backup point guard in 20 games for the Owls, Merritt averaged 3.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season, playing in nearly 15 minutes each contest. In a home loss to a nationally ranked Louisville Cardinals team, Merritt played a career game in place of starting guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, recording a career-high 14 points and adding five assists, five rebounds and four steals in 24 minutes.

White says he will return next season

Gavin White said on Monday night that he will return for another season this fall, his 35th with the program.

The longtime coach, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has been plagued by knee problems this year, is scheduled to have his deep brain stimulator adjusted on on May 13.

The brain stimulator was last adjusted three years ago, when it was installed in his brain. This time around, the adjustment will increase the amount of electrodes that enters his brain.

“It may improve things, my walk, my attitude, a lot of things so we will see,” White said.

Danielle Nelson can be reached at or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.

Field hockey announces 2014 schedule

Temple will be opening its season at the training site of the USA National Team.

Going into the team’s second year as members of the Big East Conference, 10th year coach Amanda Janney has announced the Owls’ schedule for the fall.

Temple will open up with the Conference Cup Tournament at The Spooky Nook in Lancaster, Pa., on Aug. 29. The Owls will face Northeastern and the University of Massachussets during the opening weekend, and then go on the road to take on Rutgers and Delaware the following weekend.

Temple will return to Geasey Field for its home opener against Delaware on Sept. 12.

The Owls will begin Big East play on Oct. 3 at Providence and will have conference match-ups against Villanova (Oct. 10), Old Dominion (Oct. 17), Georgetown (Oct. 24) and Connecticut (Nov. 1) as well. The games against Villanova and UConn are at home.

Temple finished 14-6 overall and 4-3 in the Big East last season. The Owls were 17th in the NCAA’s RPI rankings and fell just short of an NCAA tournament berth after losing 3-0 to UConn – the eventual Big East and NCAA Champions – in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

“We have seen success with our philosophy of scheduling the best teams to prepare our team for conference play,” Janney said in a press release.

The Owls will face eight ranked teams from 2013 this upcoming season, which include three of last year’s Final Four teams: Duke (away on Sept. 7), Maryland (away on Sept. 14) and UConn (home on Nov. 1).