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University of Pennsylvania Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky


In 1994, the University of Pennsylvania named a former Quaker basketball standout as its eighth Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics. Six years later, Steve Bilsky, Wí71 has accomplished many of the goals he set forth at the beginning of his tenure.

Renovations, ground breakings and facelifts to Pennís athletic facilities could not have been accomplished without the tireless fundraising efforts by Pennís director of athletics. Over the past few years, Bilsky has been instrumental in helping the Weightman Fund (Pennís annual giving fund) nearly double, from $1.06 million in 1995 to $2.2 million in 2001 and at the same time securing several multi-million dollar gifts for capital needs.

Today, those fundraising efforts have resulted in brand new facilities like the Penn Baseball Stadium at Murphy Field and renovations to existing facilities like The Palestra and the James D. Dunning Jr., Coachesí Center. In previous years, the athletic department also made improvements to 12 locker/team rooms, Hollenback, the Boathouse and Ringe Squash Courts, as well as building beautiful hospitality rooms in Weightman Hall and The Palestra.

Since his tenure as athletic director began, Bilsky has also worked hard to encompass recreationís goals into his strategic plan. The Katz Fitness Center at Gimbel Gymnasium was completed in 1999 and met with overwhelming enthusiasm by its users and the $20 million David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center began construction in the summer of 2001 and is scheduled to delight the Penn community with its opening in 2003. All of these initiatives were proposed and will be completed with one goal in mind -- Pennís student-athlete experience.

When womenís golf became a varsity sport in 1999-2000, the University of Pennsylvania athletic department grew to 33 intercollegiate athletic programs, which include almost 1,000 athletes that all come under the direction of Bilsky and his staff. Since 1995, Penn has enjoyed 36 Ivy League and/or Conference Championships, 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, four NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship recipients, more than 50 national All-Americans and five GTE Academic All-Americans, not to mention the countless All-Ivy League and Academic All-Ivy League honorees.

The first year of the new millenium provided a bright future for the state of Penn Athletics. Six teams were crowned Ivy League champions - the most since 1985. In the "historical firsts" category, women's basketball and women's tennis both went undefeated in their respective Ivy League seasons to win their first Ivy trophies and compete in their first NCAA postseason tournament. In the "continuing the tradition" category, football collected it's 11th Ivy League championship, and fourth in the last nine years, and wrestling picked up its sixth consecutive Ancient Eight championship. And in the "keep them coming" category, the men's track and field squad won the Outdoor Heps championship for the 13th time and the men's fencing program earned it's 14th Ivy League championship, and second in the last three years. The 2000-01 school year also saw Penn crown seven League Players of the Year and two Rookies of the Year.

Athletic and academic success has been a staple since Bilskyís arrival as athletic director in 1994, but he also holds a number of other significant accomplishments. In 1995, the settlement of a gender equity complaint against the University made prior to Bilskyís arrival was completed through successful negotiation and has been hailed as an important accomplishment for women athletes, coaches of womenís sports and the University as a whole.

In 1996, a Penn tradition was created with the establishment of the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame. The inaugural class, comprised of 46 former athletes and coaches, was inducted during a black-tie gala, which drew over 600 alumni, family and friends in celebration of Pennís prestigious athletic history. The second class was inducted in the spring of 1998 and the third class of the Penn Athletic Hall of Fame was introduced at Homecoming 2000 on November 11. In all, 111 former Penn greats are forever enshrined into Pennís athletic annals.

In the spring of 2001, the Penn Relay Carnival attracted a record-108,000 fans, grossed over $1 million in revenue and yielded more than three million hits on the official Penn Relays website. ESPN2 also broadcast the womenís world-record 4x200 relay and other great moments from the 107th running of the Penn Relays from Franklin Field on Saturday.

Prior to Bilskyís return to his alma mater, he served as the executive director of the Department of Athletics and Recreation at George Washington University. Prior to that, he was assistant director of athletics at Penn (1979-83). He earned a Masterís degree in counseling psychology at the University of Oregon in 1975 and a bachelor of science in economics from the Wharton School in 1971.

As a student-athlete at Penn, Bilsky was a three-time All-Ivy League guard and captained the nationally-ranked Quaker basketball team, considered one of the all-time greatest Penn teams in basketball history to a 28-1 record in 1970-71. He led the 1969-70 team in free throw percentage, hitting 81 percent of his shots from the charity stripe and is still the Penn record-holder for free throws made in a game with 17 against Columbia in 1969 and 1970. Bilsky guided Penn to a No. 3 national ranking after taking his team to the Eastern regional finals of the NCAA Tournament and claiming its second straight Ivy League and Big 5 championships along the way. In Bilskyís final two seasons (1970 and 1971) as the Quakersí point guard, his teams collected a 53-3 record and he was the runner up for the Naismith Award in 1971, given to the nationís best best player under 6-0.

Bilsky was inducted into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1988 and the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

Bilsky and his wife, Sue, reside in St. Davids, Pa., with their son, Jeff and daughter Katie.