In his first news conference as Temple’s interim athletic director, Fran Dunphy was the same way he was as a basketball coach — humble, grateful, and wanting to be the best teammate.
He was also difficult to pin down on the biggest question: Would he like to make this a permanent job?
Dunphy was named to his position Wednesday, filling the void after athletic director Patrick Kraft was hired June 3 for the same position at Boston College. To help with the transition, Kraft will stay at Temple until the end of the month before joining Boston College on July 1.
Dunphy hinted at times during a Zoom call Thursday with the media that he is just filling a gap before an athletic director is hired, but he wouldn’t say for sure that this is only temporary. A Temple source said Dunphy isn’t expected to be the long-term solution, but in these uncertain times, nobody knows for sure what lies ahead.
“I think they’ll have great opportunity to interview many, many great candidates for this position,” Dunphy said. “I think it’s a great job. It’s a hard job, it’s a very challenging position, but I think there’s going to be some great candidates present themselves, so I’m happy to be the fill-in person, to try to just kind of settle things out.”
The 71-year-old Dunphy was asked again if he allows himself to think about holding the job permanently, if asked.
“I haven’t thought about it for one second, but what I’ve thought about is trying to catch up on all of the things that are going on in the university world today,” he said.
Dunphy was a head basketball coach for 30 years, 17 at Penn and 13 at Temple, where his final season was 2018-2019. He was succeeded by his assistant coach, Aaron McKie.
Dunphy has remained close to the program and university, teaching a course and also supporting the basketball team. During this past basketball season, Dunphy said, he attended all but one of the home games. He missed the competition, but he said accepting this position wasn’t a way of getting back to the competitive nature of sports.
He said he couldn’t turn down Temple president Richard M. Englert when he was asked to serve in this role.
“I’ve been very humbled by the president’s request that I think about this position and I’m not a very good no-sayer,” he said. “My tendency is to say yes to just about everything.”
His reaction was predictable when the subject was first broached.
“I think there’s a little bit of surprise in it, like, ‘OK, why me, why do you think I would be good for this?’ And I went back to the president a couple of times and said, ‘Are you sure that I am the right guy, that I am the right person, am I the right person to do this, am I the logical candidate to fill in here for a little while?' ”
According to Dunphy, Englert never wavered.
“He kept saying yes and he said he had a lot of backing for that and I’m sure there are some naysayers as well, but that’s OK,” Dunphy said. “You know it’s a surprise a little bit and then you think about it and you say, OK, I will jump in there, and I will do it, and I appreciate the ask, that somebody had the confidence in me.”
Dunphy said he would lean heavily on the existing staff. He understands that the job has become even more complicated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday a limited group of Temple fall sports athletes, mainly football players, will return for voluntary workouts.