Gymnastics coach Aaron Murphy dismissed following investigation

Athletic Director Kevin Clark announced on Monday afternoon that ninth-year women’s gymnastics coach Aaron Murphy will not return to the program following an internal investigation that began last month into what the university described as “violations of athletic department policy.”

Murphy’s dismissal was made public through a brief press release posted to the athletic department’s website that stated there will be a national search to fill the vacancy. Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Larry Dougherty declined to provide any details regarding what the investigation into Murphy uncovered, citing the department’s desire to maintain privacy of personnel matters.

Check back for updates.

Freshmen pair join cross country

Two freshmen have joined the men’s cross country team as walk-ons, coach James Snyder confirmed Tuesday.

Freshman Cody Cameron joined the team during the summer, while Chris Miller was added to the roster in mid-September. Both runners have redshirted for the season.

Also planning to redshirt is freshman Katie Hayes, Snyder said. Hayes suffered an ankle injury in high school that has yet to fully heal. Hayes ran in the beginning of the season, but spent most of her season recovering from the injury.

The team also looks to take advantage of the new signing period for cross country runners from Nov. 12-19.

This is the first year that the NCAA is opening up an early signing period. In the past, the signing period has started in February.

“They pushed the later period back into April and opened up a one-week window in November where we are able to sign prospective student athletes,” Snyder said.

For the Owls, Snyder feels that this can be beneficial as he thinks the coaching staff “does their homework.”

“In a program like we are, where we are kind of in a building process, trying to find out our identity, I think of it as a real distinct advantage,” Snyder said. “I like to think that between me, coach [Steve] Fuelling, coach [Elvis] Forde and coach [Shameka] Marshall, we do our homework on the front end of recruiting and identifying young men and women who we think are going to be really successful.”

“We kind of have the ability to swoop in and sign those kids early,” Snyder added, “before they end up being what we project them to be, where big school X says ‘Why don’t you come run for our school?’”

-Ed LeFurge III

Dunphy, Addazio were top earning Temple employees in 2012-13

According to Temple, men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy and former football coach Steve Addazio were the two highest paid employees at the university during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

With a salary of $1.3 million, Dunphy made slightly more than Addazio, who earned gross earnings of $1.2 million during the fiscal year. Both coaches received huge pay increases from the previous fiscal year in which Dunphy and Addazio earned $659,000 and $612,414, respectively.

Before Addazio’s arrival, former football coach Al Golden took the banner as the highest paid university employee with gross earnings of $898,031 during the 2010-11 fiscal year. Addazio left Temple after the 2012 season for a head coaching position at Boston College, while Golden left after the 2010 season to fill the head coaching post at the University of Miami.

According to a USA Today study, Addazio’s salary, while high for University standards, ranked relatively low in the Big East with coaches earning as much as $2.3 million in 2012-13.

Among disclosed salaries, the Big East average was $1.6 million in coaches’ gross earnings, with Louisville head coach Charlie Strong’s $2.3 million topping the list.

Dunphy’s salary among the Owls’ former conference, the Atlantic 10, was below the disclosed salaries of Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart and Butler’s Brad Stevens, according to a Lansing State Journal study. Smart and Stevens’ earned $1.3 and $1.1 million, respectively.

-E.J. Smith

Pickett, Britton lead track & field at Hurricane Alumni Invitational

The men’s and women’s track & field teams competed last weekend at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational in Coral Gables, Fla., where senior jumper Gabe Pickett earned an IC4A-qualifying mark and senior Anna Pavone placed fifth in a field of more than 30 distance runners.

In the 100-meter dash, freshman Adam Hasan recorded a personal best with his 21st place finish. Sophomore Elijah Hargove and Jamal Williams also posted personal-best times.

The women’s team posted eight Top 5 finishes at the event, including Jenna Dubrow who placed sixth. The top finisher on the day was junior Margo Britton, who placed second in the shot put with her throw of 14.80 meters – her top mark during the outdoor season. Both of the relay teams on the women’s team ran their fastest times of the 2014 season.

Both teams will return to the track this weekend – at home, for the first time this year – at the Owls’ Alumni Invitational on Saturday.

Pickett, Janneh highlight Fred Harvey Invitational

Sophomore Jamila Janneh and senior Gabe Pickett were among the top finishers in the Fred Hardy Invitational in Richmond, Va., this weekend. Janneh broke a 28-year-old school record in the triple jump on Friday, while Pickett placed first among 30 competitors in the long jump on Saturday.

Coach Eric Mobley credited assistant coach Shameka Marshall for the jumping squad’s strong performances.

“It was wonderful,” Janneh said. “It was awesome. At first I didn’t know I broke the school record, I just knew I got the PR. I came over to high jump and Mobley was like, ‘You just broke the school record.'”

Pickett returned from injury last week, after sitting out for the entire indoor season.

“It’s great for him to be back competing,” Mobley said. “He placed very well as well and jumped really far. It’s good to see him back in stride and get him closer to where he left off.”

Looking toward the rest of the season, Mobley said he wants to see his teams perform better in the outdoor conference tournament than they did in the indoor tournament. This is the program’s first year in the American Athletic Conference.

“We want to have a better showing, we’re motivated not to have that feeling that we had during our indoor season,” Mobley said. “Our training has been stepping up. Our individual athletes have been getting after it in practice, and that’s where it starts.”

Baseball wins conference opener

The baseball team beat Memphis on Sunday 4-3, winning its first conference series of the 2014 season.

Entering their first year in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls now have a 7-10 overall record. This is the team’s final season before the university’s athletic cuts will take effect in July.

The baseball team will begin playing at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., on April 4 against Cincinnati.

Gymnastics to host final home meet

The men’s gymnastics team will host its last home meet ever Saturday night, as coach Fred Turoff’s squad is set to be cut on July 1.
The Owls will face University of Illinois at Chicago and the Air Force Academy starting at 7:30 p.m.
Turoff expects a similar crowd to the one he saw against Springfield two weeks earlier.
“I think we’re going to have a terrific crowd, and last meet the crowd was applauding everybody,” Turoff said.  “Last time there were a lot of ‘Save Gymnastics’ t-shirts, so I expect to see that again Saturday.”
Freshman Antone Wright is also optimistic about Saturday’s meet.
“I’m really excited, the first home meet was a success, and it’s only going to get bigger,” Wright said.  “We have a lot of support from our athletes that also had their teams cut, and a lot of the local communities around here.”
The fight to save the program hasn’t ended yet, Wright added.
“We’ve done a good job of spreading the word across the nation,” Wright said.  “USA Gymnastics has acknowledged us, so we’ve been just spreading the word for support and donations from whoever wants to.  I’m really excited to see how much larger we can get this movement going.”
–Steve Bohnel

Owls defeat top ranked team at Northwestern University

At Northwestern University Multi-Meet on Feb. 1-2, the fencing team went 9-3, including a win against No. 5 Notre Dame 14-13. The Owls’ three losses were to No. 1 Princeton 17-10, No. 5 Ohio State 21-6 and No. 7 Northwestern 17-10.

The Owls went 4-2 on day one of the competition with wins over Tufts, Lawrence, Notre Dame and Wayne State. Against Tufts and Lawrence, foil went a combined 15-3. The two loses were to Northwestern and Ohio State.

Senior epee captain Chantal Montrose had a strong performance all weekend. She went 16-4 over the two day meet, including perfect performances against Notre Dame and Stanford. In her bout against Stanford, Montrose defeated Vivian Kong 5-3. Kong was a 2013 NCAA semifinalist.

On Sunday the Owls had two consecutive 26-1 victories over Detroit Mercy and California Tech. They followed up those dominant performances with 18-9 win over Stanford. The Owls then had another 26-1 victory, this time over Cleveland State and a 22-5 victory over UC San Diego. Temple finished the day with a 17-10 loss to Princeton. The Owls epee team defeated the Princeton epee team, which has an Olympic medalist and two members of the USA National team, 6-3.

Sophomore foil Fatima Largaespada also had a strong day. She defeated two Princeton fencers and tallied a 9-1 record on day two. Senior Tasia Ford, sophomore’s Jessica Hall and Petra Khan all went 2-1 against Notre Dame.

-Michael Guise

Men’s tennis falls to William and Mary

It’s been a tough start to the season for the men’s tennis team and it didn’t get any better on Sunday at William & Mary.  The Owls dropped a 6-1 decision on the road falling to 0-4 for the spring season.

Temple was never really in the match against the Tribe, as all six of the points for the Tribe were earned routinely in straight set victories.  One of the few bright spots for the Owls was junior Kristian Marquart’s straight sets victory in singles.

However, Marquart’s victory came at a time when the match was already clinched for William & Mary. Marquart, who lost a competitive three-set match in singles against UMBC on Friday, bounced back to win in straight sets on Sunday.

Friday’s match against UMBC was even worse for Temple, as the team lost 7-0.  After a difficult weekend, the Owls now look to regroup.  They will travel to Old Dominion on Saturday in search of their first victory of the season.

-Greg Frank

Theobald calls for meeting with cut teams

President Theobald has called for a meeting with coaches and student-athletes from the seven disbanded sports programs.

According to coaches, the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the Liacouras Center and will consist of 15 minute presentations for each team. Each coach will be able to bring two selected student-athletes.

Coaches were informed via e-mail that the university would be represented by multiple members of the administration.

Sophomore Evan Hammond of the men’s crew team said he hopes that this meeting will provide the disbanded teams answers.

“All the athletes want this decision overturned,” Hammond said. “If there is anything we can do to make that happen, we want to know what it is and how to get it done.”

However, Hammond believes the meeting could be nothing but an attempt to save face.

“I think the presentation will probably just be a justification of the cuts,” he said. “Based on the way this was handled, this seems purely a PR move.”

E.J. Smith