A major donation will renovate a crumbling Philadelphia landmark and save one of the sports slated to be cut at Temple University.
Mayor Michael Nutter said Monday a major commitment from Temple trustee and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest combined with money the city was putting aside will fund renovations that will enable the rowing program to continue.
Temple University was forced to run its rowing programs out of tents when structural issues and code violations shut down its home, the East Park Canoe House.
“The city of Philadelphia has committed $2.5 million and, through the generosity of Gerry Lenfest and the Lenfest Foundation, they have committed $3 million to this effort,” Nutter said.
With the renovations, Temple University President Neil Theobald said, the men’s and women’s rowing programs can be saved.
“Through this collaboration, the city of Philadelphia and Mr. Lenfest have made it possible to have a home and continue a storied tradition on the Schuylkill River,” he said following a meeting where trustees decided that five other sports progams cannot be saved.
Men’s gymnastics, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s baseball and women’s softball will not continue.
The news stung freshman Casey Polizzotto who said he now ill have to decide whether he wants to be an Owl next school year.
“Gymnastics has been my entire life. Since I was 5 years old, that’s all I’ve done,” he said. “I skipped school functions to go to it, I worked out every day Monday through Saturday, multiple hours … I don’t know what to do with myself right now other than focus on school.”
Temple trustees’ chairman Patrick O’Connor said that as “painful” as the cuts are, they simply couldn’t be avoided.
“We could solve this problem. This board could throw a lot of money at it. We could have 24 programs. We could have great fields … fields of dreams,” he said. “But the point is, it costs a great deal of money. And since we have limited assets, we have to decide how to allocate those resources and do it fairly for all of the student body.”
O’Connor says Temple’s $44 million athletics budget will strengthen the school’s remaining programs.
A university spokesman says the cuts will save Temple between $2 million and $3 million.
Aaron Moselle contributed to this report.