Thank you. Thank you for being unlike any other coach of a prominent Division 1 college sports program. Thank you for conducting yourself with class and professionalism before all else. Thank you for caring so deeply about the work you have done both on and off the court. And thank you for giving a company made up of Temple Owls a reason to be proud of its university.
We’ve read many of the letters written to Coach Dunphy over the last several months, and to the person, they’ve described how nice a guy he is. And that’s true. But some believe that because he’s such a nice guy, it means he doesn’t compete as hard as others. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It needs to be said for whomever might read this that he is the most fiercely competitive person we’ve ever been around. (I’ll add parenthetically that I can sometimes still feel the reverberation of his thunderous claps of disapproval on the practice court in my stomach.) His desire to win is unmatched. His dedication to growing the young men and women in his program is admirable.
Our relationship dates back to 2011, when two young kids with no experience were given their first shot at being professional television producers. Temple’s Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw and Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty put their trust in us to produce a weekly television series showing the behind-the-scenes day-to-day lives of the basketball team’s coaches and players.
That meant we would be at every game, at nearly every practice, at nearly every team meal, at every community service activity, and we would travel on the team planes and buses from city to city. Needless to say, we were scared. We were worried about access. We were worried about being seen as part of the team, and not part of the media. We were worried about being able to produce a high-quality show that was reflective of our creativity as well as an acceptable representation of the university’s basketball program.
But from day one, Dunph was welcoming and friendly. And while he may not have always been happy to see our cameras pointed in his direction, he conducted himself with great professionalism. After our first season, we won our first award – a College Sports Media Award for the Best College Sports Program in the country. The first phone call of congratulations we received? Fran Dunphy.
We continued our relationship with the basketball program in the following three years, and in the course of that time, our business started to succeed, and we were able to open our first office in Queen Village. We decided to celebrate with an office warming party. Almost as a laugh, we said to each other, “let’s send Coach Dunph an invitation”. So, we did. And he showed up.
For those of you who have never worked in sports, it’s imperative that you understand that coaches of Division 1 programs don’t behave this way. They just don’t. They’re busy men - often ones who couldn’t care less about the people who hang around the fringes of their program. But not Dunph. This is who he is, through and through.
Toward the end of our engagement with Temple Athletics, we were asked to string together a montage of shots of Coach Dunphy for an award he was receiving. Just two minutes of shots cut to music and sent to the event coordinator who would run it. No problem. We created the sequence, cut it to Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” (OK, so in retrospect, the song choice wasn’t great) and sent it along. A few days after the event, Coach comes up to us and asks, “guys, what was with that video you put together?” We weren’t sure what he meant. “All the other coaches were introduced with these videos that had great passes and dunks and three pointers, and you guys had my mug up on screen for two straight minutes. I was so embarrassed.” We explained to him that we had only followed instructions. But that’s who he is. He doesn’t like the attention. And any way he can deflect the attention away from himself and onto the student-athletes, he does it.
His commitment to causes outside of basketball are awe-inspiring. He, along with his fellow City-6 coaches, has been a tremendous advocate for raising money for Coaches vs. Cancer. He teaches his players to spend time with those less fortunate, or with those struggling with illness. He donates his time and resources to causes, all without fanfare.
A couple of years back, we were working with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to document a radiothon to raise money for the Child Life department at the hospital. It was no surprise to us that Coach Dunphy showed up, during the season mind you, and lent his time to hop on the radio to encourage donations, and even to answer the phones to thank those willing to give. There was no PR person from the university with him. No handler. No photographer. Just Coach Dunphy quietly going about his normal routine of thinking about others before he thinks of himself.
As we’re coming up on your final home game, our entire team would like you to know that we’re proud. We are proud to have made your acquaintance. Proud to have travelled the country – and the world – alongside your program. And proud of the way you’ve represented our university - as a coach, as a teacher, and as a man. We’ll be on hand at your last game, proudly being among those to give you the standing ovation you deserve. Temple has been lucky to have you.
You are what college sports should be. And although you don’t like the attention, you should know that we think you’re one of a kind. We sincerely hope you enjoy your retirement, but that you never stray too far from basketball. The game needs people like you too much.