PHILADELPHIA -- University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price today announced that Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky will retire on June 30, 2014. He has made an indelible impact on the University across an extraordinary six decades, since his student days as a captain of a historic men's basketball team through his nearly twenty years of distinguished leadership of Penn Athletics.
“For decades now, Steve Bilsky has lived and loved Penn Athletics and the University has been incomparably the better for it,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “The continuing success of so many of our teams and our student-athlete alumni speaks volumes to what Steve has achieved in his years at Penn. He has been one of the most distinguished and admired leaders of his profession and a wonderful ambassador for our Institution.”
"It has been a privilege to serve for twenty years as the Director of Athletics of my alma mater," said Bilsky."I am proud of our many achievements for which I would like to thank the coaches, staff and student-athletes whom I have had the honor and pleasure to represent. My association with Penn over many decades is responsible for many of the wonderful personal and professional joys I have had in my life."
During Bilsky’s almost twenty-year tenure as Athletic Director, Penn student-athletes have achieved significant recognition, including 369 Academic All-Ivy honorees, 34 League Players of the Year, and 133 All-Americans. Penn has won 71 Ivy League championships including the most Ivy championships in the flagship sports of football(8) and men's basketball(9) . Most notably, the breadth of success has encompassed Ivy championships across 21 different squads. Bilsky has been a tireless advocate for student-athletes, sustaining Penn's national role as a leader in the NCAA's Academic Performance Ratings and launching the 4.0 Club to honor Penn student-athletes who achieve a perfect 4.0 GPA. Moreover, he has been a vigorous believer in women's athletic programs from his first days as Athletic Director, significantly advancing Penn's university-wide mission of excellence through diversity.
"In today's competitive environment," said Bilsky, "I take great satisfaction that we have been able to achieve such broad-based success while also being dominant in the Ivy League’s two high profile sports. I'm extremely proud that so many of our student-athletes have left Penn with rings on their fingers."
The Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics recently concluded Campaign for Penn Athletics raised an unprecedented $125 million, an accomplishment that will have a profound and lasting effect for many years to come. Indeed, Steve Bilsky's far-reaching legacy extends to the very landscape of Penn's campus, with an extraordinary number of projects designed to provide state-of-the-art athletic and recreational facilities for the entire community. He has been an invaluable University partner in the development of Penn Park, which has transformed not only the campus, but also the neighborhood and city. His vision and implementation of projects on the eastern precinct of Penn’s campus have led to the creation of several new facilities and the renovation of some of Penn’s most historic landmarks.
• WEISS PAVILION: Greene Family Intercollegiate Strength and Conditioning Center , Fox Fitness Center, Frey Training Room, Leisman Women's Lacrosse Locker Room, Education Commons
• Pottruck Health and Fitness Center
• Meiklejohn Baseball Stadium
• PENN PARK: Dunning-Cohen Champions' Field and Air Structure, Ace Adams Field, Hamlin Outdoor Tennis Center, Levy Courts at the Hecht Indoor Tennis Center, multi-purpose softball stadium
• TSE SPORTS CENTER at HUTCHINSON GYMNASIUM: Micahnik Fencing Center, Nalitt Gymnastics Center, Rockwell Gymnasium, Nash Land - Rowing Center, Penn Golf Center, Pottruck Wrestling Complex
• Vagelos Field Hockey Field
• Major renovations to Rhodes Soccer Field, the Palestra, Franklin Field
“My goal,” said Bilsky, “was to have the finest on campus, athletic and recreational facilities of any urban campus in the country. The feedback I’ve received from students, coaches, alumni, and visitors, convince me that we have accomplished our task.”
Bilsky was also instrumental in the creation of 10 endowed coaching positions and the Director of the Penn Relays position. During his time as Director, annual giving to the Weightman Fund has increased from $500,000 to over $4 million.
“Every member of the Penn Community,” said Provost Price, “has been the beneficiary of Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership. We are especially grateful for his immeasurable impact on the generations of student-athletes who have thrived under his guidance and that of his outstanding coaches and athletic staff. His legacy across every measure, built over decades, will continue to be felt for many decades to come.”
Bilsky was an All-Ivy guard on Penn’s nationally ranked basketball team from 1969-1971, whose regular season record his junior and senior seasons was 51-1. Prior to his time as Director at Penn, he was the Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation at The George Washington University for eleven years. He is a member of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame, The Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame, The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and The Jewish National Sports Hall of Fame.
Penn will soon announce the formation of a consultative committee to advise on the selection of Bilsky’s successor.
Quotes from Penn Coaches:
Jerome Allen – John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men’s Basketball, Fifth season
“I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Four years ago, he took a huge chance and entrusted me with the opportunity to serve as the head coach of a program that he played in, that I played in, and that both of us—along with so many others—hold dear to our hearts. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously, and will continue to do under our new leadership. I wish Mr. Bilsky well in his retirement, but I expect to see him regularly at The Palestra for years to come.”
– Women's Lacrosse Head Coach, 15th season
"Steve had such tremendous vision for where Penn's athletic department needed to go. Because of his vision and leadership, we have some of the best facilities in the nation while maintaining the historic beauty and architectural integrity of the campus. The Athletic Department has grown so much in every way and Steve has been an amazing leader who has created a legacy that takes Penn into the future."
Al Bagnoli - George A. Munger Head Coach of Football, 22nd season
“After a 20-year relationship, I will certainly miss Steve. He has been a tremendous supporter of our football program and our entire athletic department. His guidance, vision, leadership, and commitment to our student-athletes and coaches have been extraordinary and he remains a primary reason why we have enjoyed so much success with our program.”
Kerry Carr – Kenneth L. Gross Head Coach of Volleyball, 16th season
“We are going to miss Steve's vision and passion the most. He has the ability to see ahead of the game in so many different ways. When he hired me, I wasn't proven at the Division I level, yet he took a chance, and I will forever be grateful that he believed in me. He set out to brand Penn Athletics as the best in the Ivy League and he has showcased it beautifully with exceptional improvements to our facilities. I’ve always been impressed of his ability to think of everybody—all 33 sports—when making decisions. He values how hard we work, and thus, we always want to work harder, and succeed for him. I will definitely miss his leadership, and I want to thank him for all of the success—both on and off the court—we have had here at Penn.”
Rudy Fuller – James C. Gentle Head Coach of Soccer, 16th season
"Steve's legacy at Penn as a student-athlete, administrator, and Athletic Director is unparalleled in the history of Penn Athletics. His leadership and guidance has been instrumental to me and our soccer program, as well as the other sports and coaches, as we strive to keep Penn at the forefront of Ivy Athletics. He has forever changed the face of Penn Athletics with his efforts to improve the facilities, coaching positions, and experience of our student-athletes. I will forever be indebted to Steve for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a great soccer program, Athletic Department, and University. I wish him the very best going forward."
Leslie King – Softball Head Coach, 10th season
"Steve has shown again and again that not only does he have tremendous vision, but the business acumen, will, and determination to make that vision a reality. Here at Penn we have some of the finest athletic facilities in the country. That was Steve's vision and now his legacy. We will miss his leadership.”