Al Golden had few illusions when he became Temple's football coach in December of 2005. There were a bunch of issues that needed to be addressed, and one of the biggest was academics.
Before he could even think about having the kind of success that people notice, he had to put a foundation in place off the field.
Fourteen months ago, the NCAA took away nine of the Owls' 85 scholarships, the most severe penalty of the eight Division I-A football programs sanctioned.
Golden insisted he didn't want it to be an "enduring thing." And to his credit, it hasn't. Yesterday, as expected, it became official: The scholarships have been reinstated for the 2007-08 school year.
Golden obviously didn't create the situation. Still, it was his charge to clean things up.
The problems arose largely because his predecessor, Bobby Wallace, was forced to recruit more out of the junior-college ranks after the program was kicked out of the Big East earlier this decade. That's no longer the case. This season, the Owls will make their full-time debut in the Mid-American Conference. Since Golden's arrival, the university has also made a more pronounced commitment to providing the proper academic support for its student-athletes.
Together it's made a difference.
But it mostly starts with the man in charge. Golden was unavailable for comment; he and athletic director Bill Bradshaw were returning from MAC meetings in Mobile, Ala.
"We have to establish that we're going to do it right," he said when the scholarships were lost.
Last year was the first time in which programs were penalized for failing to post a score of 925 (which represents a 60 percent graduation rate) on the NCAA's Academic Progress Report (APR) for D-I sports teams. That number was based on the 2004-05 school year.
The Owls' APR score for 2005-06, which was released yesterday, is 901. While still below the threshold, Temple was not penalized because no players who were academically eligible left school.
The APR is calculated by measuring the academic eligibility and retention of student-athletes by a team each term. The APR is based on a 3-year average. Temple's number has increased to 858 for the period ending in 2005-06 from 837 for 2004-05. The school received what is termed a historical warning for remaining under 925.
Offensive tackle Elliot Seifert, Temple's 2006-07 Male Student-Athlete of the Year, has signed a free-agent rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. He'll leave for his first mini-camp today. *