The Glen Miller era is over at Penn. Quakers great Jerome Allen is the interim coach and ran practice this morning at the Palestra.
The change apparently has been in the work for several days. The Quakers are 0-7 this season, after going 23-36 the last 2 seasons, 16-16 in the Ivy League. This was Miller’s fourth season. In his first season, the Quakers went 22-9 and won the Ivy title.
"We thank Glen for his time at Penn,” athletic director Steve Bilsky said in a statement. “However, we have decided that a change is in the best interests of the program, the student-athletes, and the larger Penn basketball community.
“I have asked Jerome to help re-establish the identity of Penn Basketball. For decades, Penn Basketball has been a source of pride for the University, not simply for the successes but also for the embodiment of the Palestra creed: ‘To win the game is great, to play the game is greater, but to love the game is greatest of all.’ Jerome was an outstanding player who respects the game and loves Penn. I believe our student-athletes will benefit from his tutelage, and our fans will unite around him during this challenging time.”
Allen was in his first season as an assistant at Penn, after a legendary career for the Quakers followed by a long professional career, most recently in Italy. Bilsky told the team about the change this morning and is going to address the media during a 1:30 p.m. conference call (comments below)
Miller had great success before he came to Penn, but could not sustain that success on 33rd Street. In his last season at Division III Connecticut College (1998-99), his team went 28-1, finishing off an amazing turnaround. In 7 seasons at Brown, Miller’s teams were more than respectable in the Ivy League and more competitive than any time in memory.
Miller came to Penn on a five-year contract, so his deal has one season remaining beyond this one.
It was Miller’s work at Brown that attracted Bilsky. After winning big with seniors Ibby Jaaber and Mark Zoller in that first season, it all went downhill for Miller.
The normally rapid Penn fan base had all but disappeared over recent games. The alumni were not happy. The students were staying away in record numbers.
Penn had been especially bad at the Palestra, going 1-6 in Ivy games there last season and 0-3 in home games this season.
Allen was hired as an assistant in August. One of the great players in Penn history, Allen was the player who really signaled the renaissance of Penn basketball. Teaming with Matt Maloney from 1992-1995, they never lost an Ivy League game, going 42-0.
Allen finished his Penn career with 1,518 points, 504 assists, 482 rebounds and 166 steals. More than the stats, he was the player who helped bring Penn back to the glory days. Now, he is being called upon to try to do it again, this time as the coach.
BILSKY ON WHY THE CHANGE WAS MADE
"I think of Penn basketball as being more than just a sport…Basketball is a community building sport where there are a lot of different constituents that look at us for more than just playing (games). The leadership is not only about leading a team of student athletes which is obviously most important, but it’s also being a representative of the university to all these constituents and being one of the most prominent people at Penn.
"I think that’s incumbent on the person who has that job to have those skills and have that ability and generate good will and enthusiasm. I’m not going to really talk about what Glen did or didn’t do. I’m just going to say that going forward that’s an important quality for this person to have, to generate enthusiasm and hope and faith and goodwill and do all those things and, in addition to have a team that goes on the court that wins.
"It’s not an easy job and it’s a challenging job. It’s a unique job as you’re doing it with a group of student athletes that are here primarily to get an education and with all sorts of opportunities, but also restrictions and limitations that exist because of the Ivy League.
"All coaching jobs are difficult and all coaching jobs are difficult at all schools nowadays, maybe more difficult than ever, but this is one that’s particularly challenging, but yet very important. But that’s why we would do something that’s maybe out of our character, i.e. make a change at this time of year."