Although Thursday's announcement that Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky will retire in June was not expected, it also was not surprising.
As Penn's release with the news noted, Bilsky just finished an enormous capital campaign that raised $125 million. Since returning to his alma mater 20 years ago, the Long Island native has overseen multiple renovations to the Palestra and Franklin Field, a complete overhaul of Hutchinson Gym, and construction of new baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and field hockey facilities.
Penn Park was created on his watch, turning a concrete wasteland between Walnut and South Street bridges into a spectacular green space. There's also Shoemaker Green, which serves as a wonderful gateway from 33rd Street to the Palestra.
Just over a year ago, I wrote an essay in which I lamented the loss of the Big East conference that I grew up knowing.
It turned out that the conference's soul had not fully disappeared. It was rescued from extinction, and it will get new life when the new Big East arrives next season.
The formal announcement will come Thursday: the Big East’s basketball-only schools are separating from the rest of the conference this summer. Instead of breaking up in a year or two, they're doing so on June 30. They will take the Big East name and they will take the right to play a conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.
INDIANAPOLIS - I'm out here for the week covering Major League Soccer's college draft. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to swing by Butler University's famed Hinkle Fieldhouse, so I headed there Wednesday night to watch the Bulldogs' first ever Atlantic 10 conference home game.
I had been here once before, but only to get a tour of the place. If you ever get the chance to visit Hinkle, I would highly recommend doing so. It really is a kindred spirit to the Palestra. The brick foundation, steel arches and big glass windows cast a familiar warmth across the court on a cold winter night.
Along with the good building, there was some good basketball too.