Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

No Cosby address at Temple commencement

Temple confirms that Bill Cosby will not speak at commencement this year.

Temple University's commencement will go off this year without one of its staples – an address by embattled entertainer and alum Bill Cosby.

University officials confirmed Saturday that Cosby – who resigned his position on the board of trustees in December as decades-old allegations of sexual assault mounted - will not speak at Temple's commencement on May 8.

Multiple sources had said in December that he would not speak. A spokesman went on the record Saturday.

"Dr. Cosby spoke in the past as a member of the Board of Trustees," Temple's Ray Betzner said. "He resigned as a trustee in the fall and so is not on the program."

The university has announced that Kevin Negandhi, '98, weekday morning anchor on ESPN's SportsCenter, will deliver the commencement address at the 10 a.m. ceremony at the Liacouras Center on Temple's main campus in North Philadelphia.

Also receiving honorary degrees are Malcolm Hoenlein, '65, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations , and James Joo-Jin Kim, executive chairman of Amkor Technology, Inc. and co-founder of Electronics Boutique.

"This year's honorary degree recipients are highly successful national and international leaders and influencers," President Neil D. Theobald said in a statement. "Our graduating students will be inspired and motivated by their extraordinary determination and achievement, and their take-charge approach to their careers and lives."

Cosby, who had served on the board of trustees for more than 30 years, had been a popular speaker at university commencements for years.

A native of Philadelphia, Cosby attended Temple in the early 1960s on a track and field scholarship. He studied physical education and also played football before leaving to pursue a comedy career. He returned to Temple to earn his bachelor's degree in 1971, according to a university spokesman.

It was about a decade ago that Cosby faced sexual-assault allegations from more than a dozen women as part of a civil suit, since settled, filed in Montgomery County. Last October, the allegations were highlighted again when comedian Hannibal Buress' remarked at a performance in Philadelphia that Cosby rapes women. A video of the performance, captured by a Philadelphia Magazine writer, went viral. And one by one, women came forward and put their names to the accusations.

The old stories, dating to the 1960s, landed against a new backdrop on the nation's college and university campuses in which women increasingly are speaking out about sexual assault and their colleges' failure to appropriately address the problem.

About 20 women had made allegations by the time Cosby resigned his seat.