After Drexel Broadside, Temple Prez Defends College Football

Neil Theobald: "A well-run football program can create innumerable benefits to a national university."

Neil Theobald won’t let John Fry rain on his parade.

Just a few days after Fry, Drexel’s president, wrote a critique of college football’s effect on, well, college, Temple’s Theobald has responded. His argument: Good football teams make great universities even better.

“A well-run football program can create innumerable benefits to a national university,” Theobald, Temple’s president, wrote in a letter shared with Philadelphia Business Journal.

He said Temple’s football team, which went 10-4 this season, helped pay for 16 “non-revenue” sports at the university; publicity also helped the university set recruiting records and opened alumni wallets.

“Unlike schools that are struggling to fill seats, interest in Temple is at an all-time high and football has played a role in that rise,” Theobald wrote.

Fry never mentioned Temple directly in his critique, which ran in the Wall Street Journal. Still, the timing — Temple is seeking to build a $100 million campus stadium — seemed conspicuous. “The mounting sports losses force universities to divert funding from the fundamental task of educating students,” Fry wrote.

But Theobald and those surrounding him believe a top-notch football program can be a boon to Temple. “You look at Big Ten schools like Michigan and Penn State,” then-athletic director Kevin Clark told Philly Mag in 2014, “and you get a good sense of what it takes to have a successful program. You see the excitement and visibility football brings to campus. You can learn from them.”