HOME ~ College Football History
Temple University Intercollegiate Athletic Program is nationally
recognized, not simply because one of the University's most famous alums
- worldwide ambassador of goodwill Bill Cosby - was a track and field
and football star in the
1960s. The program is well known because of its
outstanding achievements over an extended period of time.
Temple University was among the first institutions in the United States
to sponsor extracurricular athletic activities for its students. Both
the football and basketball programs were inaugurated back in 1894 under
the direction of Coach Charles M. Williams.
On the hardwood, Temple is recognized as having won the first-ever
National Collegiate championship in 1938, under Coach James Usilton.
That Owls team, which finished with a sparkling 23-2 record, won the
inaugural National Invitation Tournament by routing Colorado, 60-36, in
the championship final. Because the NCAA Tournament was not held until
the following year, Temple's NIT championship earned the Owls national
title recognition. During the 1950s, the Temple basketball team made two
NCAA Final Four appearances (1956, 1958) under legendary Head Coach
Harry Litwack. Litwack would be inducted into the National Basketball
Hall of Fame after concluding a 21-year coaching career that included
373 wins. Under current Head Coach John Chaney, the Owls have enhanced
the tradition of excellence, having made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances
in the past 16 seasons, including a school-record 10 straight following
the 1998-99 campaign. Current NBA stars Eddie Jones of the Charlotte
Hornets, Aaron McKie of the Philadelphia 76ers and Rick Brunson of the
N.Y. Knicks continue to enhance Temple's proud basketball heritage.
Under the legendary Glenn S. "Pop" Warner, the Temple football program
of the 1930s regularly scheduled games against the perennial
heavyweights of the day. The Owls were playing teams such as Army,
Florida, Iowa, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Penn State, SMU, Tennessee and
Texas A&M, and winning with regularity. Between 1933 and 1938, Warner
directed the Owls to 31 victories, and his 1934 team had the distinction
of playing in the very first Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans. In 1979 the
Owls posted their first and only bowl win with a 28-17 victory over
California in the Garden State Bowl at the Meadowlands. The tradition of
facing the nation's best teams on the gridiron continues, as the Owls
have squared off against the likes of Miami, Penn State, Syracuse,
Boston College, West Virginia and Virginia Tech on a regular basis in
the current decade.
Temple's baseball program has played in two College World Series and its
coach, veteran James "Skip Wilson, has guided the Owls to 901 career
wins, including a recent trip to the Atlantic 10 Conference
championship. Under Fred Turoff, the men's gymnastics team has won 12
ECAC/EIGL championships. Recently Darin Gerlach continued a long line of
national success by winning an individual event national championship in
1998. Coach Gavin White's Temple crews of the past 17 years have won
with regularity at Philadelphia's prestigious Dad Vail Regatta, in
addition to several other events.
Additional men's programs with long and rich histories include soccer,
golf and track and field. The soccer program, also established in 1926,
produced five Olympians en route to surpassing the 500-win milestone in
the fall of 1996.
The Temple golf program, inaugurated in 1931, has participated in 20
NCAA championship tournaments, produced 22 All-American citations and
won 15 conference championships.
In track and field, the late Eulace Peacock remains a giant in the
history of the sport. In the mid-1930s, Peacock brought national
attention to himself and the Temple program with a string of sprinting
victories over famed Ohio State and Olympic Games star Jesse Owens.
Although women's athletics did not earn intercollegiate status until
1975, nor NCAA sanction until the early 1980s, Temple University
established itself as a forerunner early in the century. As early as
1923, the University's women began participating on club sport teams. In
fact, that year, Coach Blanche Voorhees guided an Owl basketball team to
a perfect 12-0 record and also started a field hockey program.
Additional sports for women followed: swimming in 1926, tennis in 1939,
fencing in 1946, softball in 1949, lacrosse in 1957, and finally
volleyball, track and field and gymnastics in 1975.
The modern era took root in 1974, when Temple named physical education
instructor Veronica "Ronnie" Maurek to the dual role of head basketball
and softball coach. When Maurek chose to coach only softball three years
later, the University went outside the physical education department for
the first time to hire its first modern-day full-time women's basketball
coach, Andy McGovern. McGovern produced the Owls' first winning season
of the modern era with a 14-10 mark in the 1979-80 season. Prior to the
1980-81 season, Temple named Linda MacDonald as its second full-time
head coach and began the process of national recruiting and scheduling.
By the 1988-89 season, MacDonald had produced the Owls' first team to
qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In the 1983-84 campaign, Marilyn
Stephens was named to the Kodak All-America team.
Under the direction of Tina Sloan-Green, and beginning in 1975, the
Temple lacrosse program captured three national championships and has
had individuals earn 43 All-American certificates. The tradition of
excellence is carried on by current head coach Kim Ciarrocca, who was a
member of the Owls' 1988 national championship club and guided her 1997
team into the NCAA Final Four.
Temple field hockey teams have finished among the NCAA's top 20 no less
than 13 times in the last 15 seasons, while producing 24 All-Americans.
Jane Catanzaro, a four-time All-American between 1987 and 1990, won the
prestigious Honda Award in the 1990-91 academic year, for outstanding
achievement and excellence in intercollegiate athletics.
Temple's fencing team has consistently been one of the nation's best
under veteran head coach Nikki Franke. Between 1983 and 1995, Owl
fencers competed in the NCAA championships every year and never finished
lower than fifth. In 1992, Coach Franke's squad was crowned the NCAA
champion in foil competition. Franke has been honored as national Coach
of the Year on four occasions.