Temple Owls

Temple Owls Football History

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The 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 Temple football history1960s. 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.

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