Penn needs to go public with the results and reforms of its admissions investigation

It has been 15 months since news broke about former men’s basketball head coach Jerome Allen receiving bribes from Florida businessman Philip Esformes to place Esformes’s son, Morris Esformes, onto the recruited athlete list for the entering Fall 2015 class.  The information, which was revealed as federal authorities were investigating the elder Esformes for healthcare fraud, led to bribery charges against Allen.  Since that time, Allen and Philip Esformes were found guilty and sentenced for their crimes, while the younger Esformes graduated from Penn’s Wharton School.

In March, Yale was caught up in the national Operation Varsity Blues admission scandal, when its former women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith was alleged to have taken bribes to place students on his recruited athlete list.  Meredith plead guilty to his actions and is awaiting sentencing.  Of the two recruited students, one was admitted for the fall of 2018 and had her acceptance rescinded.

Looking at the responses to these scandals by the two Ivy League institutions, one has been open and one has been far from forthcoming.

Read morePenn needs to go public with the results and reforms of its admissions investigation

The Jerome Allen story: A closer read

Jerome Allen was inducted into Class X of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. He’s no longer in the Hall of Fame now, and understandably so, But the good he did for Penn shouldn’t be shunted aside either. (Penn Sports Network video)

It was one year ago today that allegations that Jerome Allen took bribes were first reported by Bloomberg and the Miami Herald.

But the passage of time didn’t make Sports Illustrated’s deep dive last week into how Jerome Allen became guilty of bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion any easier to digest.

Most Penn basketball supporters will find it an uncomfortable read, but its revelations are simply too many to ignore.

They reconfirm what we already knew – one of Penn basketball’s most admired figures used his head coaching position for personal gain at the expense of the program.

But taken as a whole, the article’s revelations paint a far more holistic portrait than that.

Allen is and will always be more than an implicated figure on a witness stand, and his story as told by SI merits closer examination – as do the institutions and forces that shaped it. As someone who covered Allen and Penn basketball extensively for the Daily Pennsylvanian from 2012 to 2014, I thought I’d do a closer read of SI’s story, portions of which are italicized below.

Read moreThe Jerome Allen story: A closer read

Who could/should be Penn’s next head coach?

My big board for Penn’s vacant head coaching position, a mixture of what I think Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun’s current ranking is and what the ranking should be:

10. Louis Orr (Siena head coach 2000-01, Seton Hall head coach 2001-06, Bowling Green head coach 2007-14)

Lifetime record: 201-201 (.500)

Wanna succeed against Tommy Amaker? Hire Tommy Amaker’s successor. Louis Orr, one half of the “Bouie & Louie Show” at Syracuse in the late ‘70s, took over for Amaker at Seton Hall in 2001 when the latter left for Michigan. Orr was actually the more successful coach for the Pirates, making one NIT appearance and two NCAA appearances in five years. In 2006, he was inexplicably fired after taking the Pirates to the NCAA tournament, and they’ve never made it back since. Then again, neither has Orr, who finished 101-121 in seven years at Bowling Green. The 58-year-old Cincinnati native has no Ivy or City 6 experience, but he’s got loads of experience and would provide instant credibility on the recruiting trail, especially in New Jersey, a frequent target area for Penn recruiting. Still, he’s an outsider on nobody’s radar.

Read moreWho could/should be Penn’s next head coach?

Lenses on Penn basketball’s expenses

There has been much talk in the past several years, particularly this season, about how much or little support Penn Athletics has received from the university.

It must be noted that the problem for Penn Athletics isn’t the inability to spend. According to data from the Office of Postsecondary Education, Penn’s annual expenses since 2004 – the start of Amy Gutmann’s presidency at Penn – average out to 30,644,364, the highest average in expenses in the Ivy League in that span:

Average Annual Athletics Expenses Since 2004

  1. Penn 30,644,364
  2. Yale 27,483,608
  3. Princeton 19,230,050
  4. Harvard 18,707,094
  5. Columbia 18,703,370
  6. Dartmouth 18,673,655
  7. Cornell 18,589,023
  8. Brown 15,175,837

Read moreLenses on Penn basketball’s expenses