Penn basketball and the Palestra get a presenting sponsor

On Tuesday afternoon, Penn’s Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, director of athletics and recreation, held a press conference to announce that Penn Athletics secured a sponsorship with Macquarie Investment Management. The multi-faceted agreement is highlighted by the group’s presenting sponsorship of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as naming rights to the Palestra’s famed court.

Calhoun refused to disclose the length and value of the deal but noted the partnership is for several years and is the largest such agreement in the history of Penn Athletics.

Typically, a presenting sponsor attaches its name to a product. With respect to the “Cathedral of Basketball”, the hardwood will now permanently be known as “Macquarie Court at the Palestra.” Calhoun noted, iin response to questions from Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com and reporters form the Daily Pennsylvanian, that having a corporate name linked directly with the fabled arena was not an option. However, she did admit that the school’s famed football stadium, Franklin Field, and the Penn Relays could be considered for a deal in the future.

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It’s the journey, not the hardware

With the 2017-18 Ivy hoops season coming upon us, I wish to share with you my one encounter with the Ivy League football championship trophy.

In 1982 I was doing post-graduate work on campus in a subject that will remain classified. (However, I will tell you that it was replete with the “three Ms”—math, molecules and, therefore, misery.) It was also the year that Penn football vaulted from doormat status to Ivy League champion. Up until this time, the football team was so incredibly bad. I once watched an opening kickoff squib a mere seven yards.

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Why Penn can do better than fourth in the Ivy League standings in 2017-18

The leaves remain unnaturally green, the air temperature dips into the upper 70s and the Quaker football team uncharacteristically turns Franklin Field into a house of horrors. All of this can only mean one thing: the upcoming Ivy hoops season cannot be far behind. (And, of course, the Earth is going to burn like a cinder in space.) And once again it is I, The AQ, bringing you another year of outstanding Penn basketball coverage as I faithfully have for IHO since 1947.

Read moreWhy Penn can do better than fourth in the Ivy League standings in 2017-18

Penn all-time moment No. 1: The 1979 Final Four run

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We covered Penn now because Steve Donahue knows what’s up:

YQ = Young Quaker, of course. Bob Weinhauer = forever.
YQ = Young Quaker, of course. Bob Weinhauer = forever.

For those who did not experience it, the 1979 Penn Final Four season is almost indescribable. It was a once in a lifetime moment that happened to last two weeks. As students, our time in Philly was indelibly shaped by the completely unexpected rise of the Red and Blue to national prominence. School spirit was at an all-time high, and people who otherwise knew and cared little about college basketball were swept up in the mania that those few weeks in March brought. USA Today ranks it as the greatest Final Four ever and it is still, 36 years later, one of the highest-rated in terms of television viewership. This is because it not only changed our lives, but it changed the panorama of college basketball in America forever.

The ‘78-79 campaign started out like most for the Quakers in Bob Weinhauer’s second year as head coach. The team had finished 20-8 in his rookie season and was well on its way to repeating as Ivy League champions. The Quakers deftly handled their nonconference schedule, losing only to Iowa in two overtimes and getting blown out by San Diego State, 110-86. Then in late January came the Georgetown game at the Palestra. It was a nationally televised contest, a rarity for an Ivy League school, on a freezing Saturday afternoon. (Let’s face it, the networks certainly weren’t going to give it Brown or Cornell). The Cathedral was packed. Georgetown was ranked 10th in the nation and featured All-American guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd and forward Craig “Big Sky” Shelton. (They just don’t make nicknames like that anymore.  Tony “Big Float” Hicks? Nah.)

Read morePenn all-time moment No. 1: The 1979 Final Four run