Didn't see this news coming from North Broad Street.
If it ends up happening - if Temple's board of trustees ousts president Neil D. Theobald - a question comes up immediately: What would that mean for Temple's building a campus football stadium?
At a glance, you might think Temple would continue its present course, steering toward building the stadium. In addition to the bombshell news at Tuesday's board meeting - the board of trustees announcing it had taken a unanimous vote of no confidence in Theobald and intended to dismiss him - the board also approved spending $250,000 more on the current stadium feasibility study, adding a traffic impact report. It has now put out $1.5 million overall for the feasibility study.
If Theobald ends up leaving, obviously a new president, an interim and then a permanent one, would be at any table discussing whether to keep moving full steam toward a stadium.
Just understand that Theobald was driving stadium discussions from the start. If he goes, it is possible that stadium discussions also go away or at least could slow considerably.
One of the reasons Tuesday's news was such a surprise was Temple's board had seemed to show broad support for Theobald when it came to past major issues, certainly when it came to sports. Nothing unusual about that; the board hired him. When Temple cut several sports early in Theobald's tenure, the board approved the cuts with seemingly little debate. (And approved bringing the rowing teams back after a public outcry and a big check was written to repair the boathouse.)
When Theobald began plans for a new campus football stadium, there was little indication of a great deal of board dissent, although it wasn't necessarily a unanimous wish to build.
While sports isn't behind the move to oust Theobald, the timing is interesting in that the school has a shortfall of millions in one area involving financial aid and also loses millions more annually on athletics, while the president is proposing to spend more millions to build the stadium. Surely some of those dots were being connected at the board level.
There was very little talk of a campus stadium before Theobald's arrival 31/2 years ago. The first time I talked to Theobald, in 2013, Temple's new president told me "every university wants an on-campus stadium." I assumed he was trying to establish some negotiating leverage with the Eagles before it was time for a new deal with Lincoln Financial Field. Theobald quickly proved he had meant what he said. His refrain: "The cost of building is less than the cost of renting."
Whether Temple has been raising enough money to complete the stadium deal is an open question. Whether Theobald had convinced everyone that the stadium would be self-sustaining financially is another question. He was certainly optimistic in his financial projections that all stadium costs would be covered.
Personal thoughts: On the stadium issue, I understand the desire to add elements to campus life. I also believe it is possible a campus stadium at Temple could be both too big and too small. Too big for games against non-rivals. Not big enough for the biggest games.
Some people invested in Temple's future certainly have questions about whether the issues that come with a stadium - including community concerns, parking, tailgating - make a move from the Linc worthwhile. It just never seemed as if Theobald saw those concerns as roadblocks.
Predicting what Temple may do in the near future seems impossible given the most recent events. Plenty of chapters remain to be written. However, if the man who wanted the campus stadium the most is indeed ousted, the odds of its being built go down. It doesn't take a traffic study to know that.