In a little over 20 days, seniors will walk across a stage at graduation and leave Muhlenberg in pursuit of bigger and better opportunities.
Like these students, athletic director Corey Goff will also start fresh, as he is headed to Florida in time to enjoy the warmer weather, moving to the Ransom Everglades School, a college preparatory school in Miami.
The state of Muhlenberg athletics at the time of Goff’s departure is difficult to pinpoint. Since fall 2016, six head coaches have either left or retired from coaching the Mules; sometimes, in those cases, assistant coaches follow suit, which has led to gaps not only in coaching but in aspects of the Athletic Department itself. Other coaches remain devoted to the Allentown liberal arts school, such as Ron Rohn, the women’s basketball coach, and Brad Hackett, the head coach of track & field.
Additionally, combining each varsity team’s recent complete season, Muhlenberg athletics has an overall record of 134-119-7; this only includes sports with a clear win or loss and not place finishes. While it is a winning record, 46 wins — or over a third of the win column — came from volleyball and women’s basketball, two of the most prolific and successful programs on campus.
Many of the other sports in this season and past seasons teeter at either the .500 mark or below. Additionally, the availability for athletic opportunity outside of varsity sports has diminished in recent years. Whatever the reason for the lack of success across the board — be it a difficult conference, inconsistent coaching or lack of support from athletics administration — some sports may benefit from a change of pace.
“How many small liberal arts colleges in the country have a neuroscience program that compares to ours? How many can virtually guarantee an aspiring accounting major employment at a big four firm if they maintain a 3.4 or better? How many do all of the above? Only one.” – Corey Goff
However, to make it seem like Muhlenberg athletics is in shambles isn’t fair to the accomplishments of the athletes. In that same period of time, the women’s basketball team won the Centennial Conference championship three years in a row. Women’s lacrosse beat eventual national champion Gettysburg.
The men’s cross country, men’s track & field, field hockey, football and women’s basketball teams featured players with All-American honors. Men’s lacrosse, having it’s best season in a decade, broke the school record for goals in a season and tied the record for wins in a season — finishing over .500 for the first time since the 2008 season.
However, it is difficult to imagine Muhlenberg athletics without Goff at the helm as he’s served the last six of his 18-year tenure as the executive director of athletics and recreation. Looking forward, though, Goff believes what sets Muhlenberg apart from similar schools is exactly what will attract candidates dedicated to both athletics and the school community.
“Muhlenberg is true to its residential liberal arts values yet we possess an academic agility that is not typically characteristic of a highly selective arts college,” said Goff. “How many small liberal arts colleges in the country have a neuroscience program that compares to ours? How many can virtually guarantee an aspiring accounting major employment at a big four firm if they maintain a 3.4 or better? How many do all of the above? Only one.”
For Megan Patruno, the associate athletic director, what she wants the new athletic director to bring to Muhlenberg is someone who also recognizes “the strong culture of mutual respect, engagement and academic and athletic success” but will think of ways to continue and grow that culture.
In an attempt to keep the culture Patruno was discussing alive, those involved in the search and hiring process have tried to involve both coach and student-athlete input. Several student athletes were invited to serve on the committee and all head coaches have been involved throughout the process. Sean Topping, the men’s soccer coach, is the coach tasked with representing the department as a member of the search committee. For a candidate, the process itself includes, but is not limited to, an interview with the president, an interview with athletic administration and a presentation and Q&A for student athletes that any athlete could attend.
The Muhlenberg Weekly received no responses to a request for comment sent to all head coaches in the athletics department about what they would like to see from the new athletic director.
Goff’s decision to leave Muhlenberg was made public on Mar. 1; there is no word yet as to when a new athletic director will be announced as, for now, the hiring process is still ongoing.