When one thinks of Temple University, three things come to mind:
1. Great basketball.
2. Horrible football.
3. Bill Cosby.
For this article, let's focus on number one.
Temple University has a wonderful basketball tradition. Temple has made three consecutive tournaments, and could be ranked in the top 10 in the nation this year. This is a school with decades of good basketball fortune.
Temple has been to 20 of the last 27 NCAA Tournaments. Temple has 23 NCAA Tournament wins in this span. Most of those seven missed NCAA Tournaments were when they replaced one Hall of Fame coach, John Chaney, with their future Hall of Fame basketball coach, Fran Dunphy.
This is a basketball pedigree that matches up with all but a few teams in the nation.
Fran Dunphy has been to the NCAA Tournament 12 of the last 20 years. How many other college basketball coaches can say that?
While Temple fans have been treated to a fantastic basketball history, they have rewarded their coaches and players by not going to games or supporting the team. Tragic, really.
Temple is a state-funded university. The state of Pennsylvania subsidizes Temple with $189 million per year. Temple then turns around and loses $10 mill per year on athletics. One may question whether this is a good use of taxpayer dollars.
When you add in the fact that Temple fans don't seem to care whether they have a sports team or not, one would be a fool to endorse this inefficient waste of taxpayer money.
Temple recently built a $73 mill basketball arena. The Liacouras Center, a 10,000 fan capacity arena, opened in 1997.
How do Temple fans thank the Pennsylvania taxpayers for building them this beautiful arena with money that could have, or should have, been spent on more deserving public social programs? They stay home.
Temple rarely sells out the Liacouras Center. In fact, Temple rarely averages 7,000 fans per game.
In 2010, Temple played 14 games at the Liacouras Center. 53,537 seats went unsold for Temple basketball games. Only 89,263 seats were filled.
Keep in mind that this was a team that spent most of the season ranked, and went to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. This was a good year for Temple.
In 2004, for example, Temple had 67,633 empty seats for their 14 home games. Only 75,167 fans showed up to support the basketball team in 2004.
In 2005, Temple had 72,624 empty seats for their 13 home games, with only 59,976 fans actually attending games. More fans dressed up as empty seats than showed up as real fans in 2005.
Why does a school with 36,000 students, and such a wonderful basketball tradition, struggle to put 6,000 fans in a 10,000 seat arena?
The answer is simple: The Temple community does not care about athletics. Student and alumni apathy plagues the Temple athletic department.
When a student enrolls in Temple, that student does not view athletics as part of the experience. Temple's athletic culture is minimal, similar to other large schools with low athletic interest, like NYU or SUNY Buffalo.
A student entering Temple is entering a school where they will receive a quality education at a reduced rate, thanks to the Pennsylvania taxpayers. The idea of the Pennsylvania taxpayers also funding a top-notch athletic program is not something that enters the picture. Fellow students don't care about the athletic scene, alumni don't care, and there are not many casual Phialdelphians who care about Temple athletics.
This is also true with football. While Temple football is historically the worst program in the nation, Al Golden has them winning these days. But as highlighted in this Bleacher Report article, the Temple fans have rewarded Coach Golden with empty seats, and Golden is now dreaming of moving on to a job where the fans actually care about the program.
This is sad. John Chaney deserved better. Fran Dunphy deserves better. Al Golden deserves better. The taxpayers who paid millions and millions of dollars for the Liacouras Center deserve better. Those less fortunate Pennsylvania residents who could have benefited from the tax dollars that are burned at an alarming rate deserve better.
If Temple fans don't care about athletics, why should the taxpayers of Pennsylvania be subject to this incredible burden. Is this really fair?
And while we are talking about taxpayer burdens, did you know that Temple is lobbying the tax payers for over $100 mill to build an on-campus football stadium? Absurd as it sounds, it may happen.
A school that only draws over 15,000 fans for football when local teams with strong fan bases such as Penn State or Villanova come to town somehow thinks the tax payers should shell out over $100 mill for a new football stadium.
As if the state of Pennsylvania couldn't use that money for more worthwhile social projects.
Temple fans who are demanding a new stadium remind me of somebody purchasing a bus pass and then demanding that a limo pick them up. When did a social program, which Temple essentially is, become a luxury item that the taxpayers must subsidize? Where did this all go wrong?
If Temple athletics were not a money pit, then we could justify the big money programs. But Temple is not Penn State, a major source of state pride and support, that is able to fund its athletics through it revenue earned on athletics.
Temple funds its athletics through Direct Institutional Support. For a state-funded program to burn that much money on athletics is is a tremendous disservice to the tax payers.
If the state is going to spend huge money on an athletic program with no financial return, why not pour the money into a school like Lincoln, where the fans have shown they actually have some school pride?
Temple is too good a basketball program for a school with 36,000 students to ignore. Yet the students and fans don't seem to care. The fan apathy at Temple saddens this journalist from the Northeast Corridor.
- TJ Corbs, tackling the hard hitting issues of the Northeast Corridor.