Written by: Owen Boyle
Interim athletic director Fran Dunphy met with the media on Monday to discuss plans and protocols for the start of Temple’s fall athletic season.
“It’s an amazing time that we are in,” Fran Dunphy said to members of the media via zoom on Monday afternoon. “Anything I say to you today can change as soon as tomorrow.”
Fran Dunphy was hired as acting athletic director on June 17th and began his tenure on July 1st, replacing Pat Kraft who left to take the same job at Boston College.
“We are full speed ahead,” Dunphy said. “All teams that are playing are currently practicing with safety protocols in place.”
All fall sports programs are set to play except field hockey, whose season was postponed. Field hockey is the only Temple program that is in the Big East Conference, which postponed all their fall sports until further notice. Options of playing the fall sports in the spring of 2021 are still being assessed.
The American Athletic Conference (AAC) put out an edict to all programs that marked September 1st as the first day of competition.
Men’s soccer will be the first program to play when they travel to USF on September 5th. Women’s soccer will be the first program to play on home soil when they host UCF on September 6th.
The football program doesn’t take the field until September 26th when they travel to the Naval Academy to battle with the Midshipmen. While this may seem like a long wait, Dunphy thinks it can be an advantage for the program.
“One of the things that happens with playing the Navy game on the 26th is that we get to evaluate how everything is going, how the rest of the football world is going, and we can see some of the issues we may have to deal with,” Dunphy said.
The game against Navy appears for now as the likely starting point for the Owls’ season. The non-conference games originally slated for this season included Power 5 foes Miami and Rutgers, both of which the program is looking to reschedule for future seasons.
Elsewhere, volleyball is the last Temple sport to get underway as they travel to USF on the first of October. The volleyball program will play an 8-game schedule with all games being played within the conference.
Dunphy has had positive conversations and good responses from the majority of the student athletes in regards to playing during the pandemic.
“The vast majority are wanting to play, they want the chance to play,” Dunphy said. “It’s unfair to all the athletes who want to play and I am really feeling for them.”
Not all Temple athletes are confident in their ability to be safe while playing with the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
“There are a few that are questioning the issues, but that is certainly a part of what a young person has the right to do these days,” Dunphy said.
The number one priority for Dunphy is making sure that the safety protocols in place protect and make the athletes feel safe. All teams are currently testing once a week, but there is a chance that it could be as many as two times once AAC competition begins.
“The protocols are well in place,” Dunphy said. “Our doctors and trainers are doing an unbelievable job, our coaches are working hard to make sure we maintain every health and safety protocol.”
According to Dunphy, the athletes are doing their fair share of hard work when it comes to following the safety protocols.
“I had the chance to chat with the men’s soccer program after one of their practices this week and told them how proud I am and acknowledge how hard they are working,” Dunphy recalled. “This goes for all of our athletic programs.”
Dunphy is working hard with the school, the AAC, and the City of Philadelphia to determine if a small number of fans would be allowed at Temple sporting events this fall.
“Some other schools in our league have been trying to get 25 percent capacity for their games, but they are in different areas of the country then we are,” Dunphy said of the discussion on fans’ presence at games. “The city will tell us what we are allowed and not allowed to do in terms of fans.”
Dunphy is hoping for a small percentage of fans at Temple football games, but was more pessimistic when it came to having fans at Olympic sporting events.
As of now, Temple athletics will kick off on the first weekend of September with hope of safely completing the fall sports season.