Dec. 6, 2013


Temple to Cut Baseball

School announces reduction of seven sports after spring seasons


By Sean Ryan Co-Founder @collbaseball


Temple baseball coach Ryan Wheeler got an email Thursday requesting a mandatory meeting with Owls Athletic Director Kevin Clark. Up until an hour before his 1 p.m. Friday meeting, the third-year coach had no idea what the meeting was about. 


Wheeler – and six other head coaches at Temple – was told that the school was discontinuing his program at the conclusion of the 2014 season.


“I don’t know what to feel,” Wheeler said Friday night. “Obviously I’m in shock. There are so many positive things going on here at Temple, to get this news today was shocking. I don’t think there’s any good time to share this kind of news. But to receive it today, I didn’t see it coming down the line.”


Along with baseball, men’s crew, men’s gymnastics, men’s outdoor track and field, men’s indoor track and field, women’s softball and women’s rowing were cut after a seven-month analysis of the athletics program, according to the school.


The school said that about 150 student-athletes and nine full-time coaches will be impacted by the decision, which will save about $3 million from a $44 million athletics budget according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Temple will honor scholarships should the student-athletes wish to remain at the school.


“Temple does not have the resources to equip, staff and provide a positive competitive experience for 24 varsity sports,” Clark said in a school release. “Continuing this model does a disservice to our student-athletes. We need to have the right-sized program to create a sustainable model for Temple University athletics moving forward.”


Baseball became a casualty in part because Temple doesn’t have an on-campus facility – players and coaches make a nearly two-hour round trip to play in Ambler, Pa. A month ago, the Owls announced that they would play most of their American Athletic Conference games at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J.


“This is a business we’re in, this is a business move,” Wheeler said. “I get it. I’m angry. But I can’t be too angry. I’ve been around and I know it’s a business. I think it’s unfair. But I get it.”


Shortly after his meeting with Clark, Wheeler’s players and the players from the other sports were told of the decision, and he and his assistants spent the afternoon contacting their 11 recruits.


“I think for the most part, they were completely blind-sided,” Wheeler said. “There was a very short window between when I found out and when the team found out. The players, they’re angry. They’re angry and upset.”


Wheeler told his players he understood their emotions were running strong. He also cautioned them not to do anything that would jeopardize other opportunities, some of which already are coming in from coaches around the country. With some of his players already talking about leaving before the season, Wheeler isn’t positive the Owls will have enough players to play the season. 


Among the more than 75 emails, 65 texts and dozens of calls, Wheeler heard from alums Ed Wade, former Philadelphia Phillies general manager, and Jeff Manto, former major league player and coach. He also got a message from Towson coach Mike Gottlieb, whose program was spared this year after being tabbed for extinction.


Wheeler, for one, is hoping there’s a chance to save baseball at Temple even though he knows it’s an uphill battle.


“I owe it to these players, I owe it to the alumni, I owe it to these coaches and I owe it to the program to do everything I can to save it,” he said.


(photos courtesy of W&M Media Relations Office)