As Ivy League basketball emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, new opportunities abound for new and returning Ivy players, coaches and even windows:
On a day when a disgraced men’s basketball coach was reported to be on the interview list for the Celtics head coaching job, the University of Pennsylvania hired his former supervisor as its new athletic director.
Just three months shy of the announcement that Grace Calhoun would be leaving Penn for Brown, her alma mater, Dr. Alanna Shanahan, a 1996 Penn graduate, was named Calhoun’s replacement on June 2. Shanahan, a one-time captain and MVP of the lacrosse team, began a nineteen year association with the department as an assistant and interim head coach for her former program.
M. Grace Calhoun is making one big intra-Ivy move.
Calhoun, a 1992 Brown graduate and former track and field athlete there, will become vice president of athletics and recreation, a newly created position after former athletic director Jack Hayes left the university last month.
Rudy Fuller, Penn’s senior associate athletic director for intercollegiate programs and longtime former Penn men’s soccer coach, will serve as interim director of athletics and recreation until a permanent appointment is made.
After Penn parent Philip Esformes had his 20-year prison sentence for Medicare fraud commuted by fellow Quaker parent President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Ivy Hoops Online looks back at the people and departments, directly and indirectly, involved in the bribery scandal in which Esformes got former Penn men’s basketball head coach Jerome Allen to place his son, Morris Esformes, on the recruited athletes list for the fall of 2015.
The tail end of Tuesday afternoon’s statement on Executive Grants of Clemency from outgoing President Donald Trump brought news that caught the interest of Ivy hoops fans. Philip Esformes, the father who bribed former Penn men’s basketball coach Jerome Allen to get his son, Morris, onto the recruited athlete list for the fall of 2015, had his 20-year prison sentence for Medicare insurance fraud commuted.
According to the statement, the commutation was supported by two former attorneys general, Edwin Meese (1985-1988) and Michael Mukasey (2007-2009). Meese was also joined by former attorneys general John Ashcroft (2001-2005) and Alberto Gonzalez (2005-2007), as well as Whitewater Special Counsel and former Baylor President Ken Starr, in supporting Esformes’s appeal of his conviction due to “prosecutorial misconduct related to violating attorney-client privilege.”
Penn Director of Athletics M. Grace Calhoun has had an incredibly busy and productive spring, but it appears that Penn Athletics hasn’t completed at least two of the required penalties from the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ February report under her leadership.
Calhoun, who has been in charge at Weightman Hall since the summer of 2014, oversees a staff of 165 employees, 33 varsity athletics programs, and nearly 40 club sports, as well as broad-based intramural and recreational offerings for students, faculty and staff.
To add to her full-time job and parenting of four homebound children during the coronavirus pandemic, Calhoun is the chair of the Ivy League’s committee on administration, the chair of the NCAA Division I council, a voting member of the NCAA board of directors and a non-voting member of the NCAA board of governors.
Waking up Wednesday morning, who knew that the sweep of the Penn men’s basketball team by Dartmouth and Harvard, as well as Tuesday’s blowout loss to Princeton by the women’s team, would not be the worst news of the week for the Quakers?
At high noon, the NCAA released a statement and report detailing its investigation into former Penn men’s head coach, Jerome Allen, who received bribes from Florida businessman Philip Esformes to place his son, Morris Esformes, onto the recruited athletes list for the entering class of 2015. Minutes later, Penn Athletics released its own statement on the report.
A quick note to readers of Ivy Hoops Online that Thursday marked the 18-month anniversary of the Penn Athletics announcement that it would be hiring outside legal counsel to look into 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 was revealed as federal authorities were investigating the elder Esformes for healthcare fraud.
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.
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.