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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

Penn Basketball: John Wideman and the 1963 City Champions
Student-Athletes

This exhibit was researched and written by Elliot A. Greenwald, University Archives Summer Research Fellow, 2000-2002.

 

Impressively, the 1963 basketball team did not allow their success to interfere with their education. As commented in the Daily Pennsylvanian by columnist Dan Rottenberg, "Today's Penn athlete is more of a student than ever before, and yet Quaker teams still produce a high caliber of competition….In this age of specialization the Ivy athlete emerges as an example of all-around excellence." The 1963 basketball team could seemingly compete at an unquestionably high athletic level without compromising academics. Rottenberg continued to elaborate on the academic success of the team, explaining, "…it is highly significant that this year's basketball team produced as many Phi Beta Kappas as did the D.P. features staff." While Rottenberg failed to note that team captain and College senior John Wideman was the lone Phi Beta Kappa from the basketball team, his statement about the number of Phi Beta Kappa recipients nonetheless alludes to the extraordinary academic success of the team. Headline from Daily Pennsylvanian article in annual gag issues. February 22 ,1963.

A month prior to the Rottenberg article, the Daily Pennsylvanian published an article in its joke issue that explained how College junior Ramon Joseph Carazo and Wharton senior Geoffrey Charles Strum had been dismissed from the team because of "academic issues." Strum and Carazo were both model students as members of Phi Kappa Beta, a junior honor society.1 In other words, their alleged academic ineligibility was implausible and could only be interpreted as humorous. The Daily Pennsylvanian's portrayal of the academic excellence of the team was not without strong evidence. In addition to Strum and Carazo, Wideman and College junior Andrew Phillip Buckley were members of Phi Kappa Beta during their respective junior years.

Based on their academic successes, several members of the team even went on to attend Penn professional schools. Robert Lewis Purdy, a senior in the School of Allied Medical Professions, graduated from the Penn Dental School in 1967.2 Ed Anderson, a College sophomore, would later attend the Penn Medical School, graduating in 1969. Wharton junior Bruce Edward Moore would continue his business studies receiving a Master of Science in Accounting in 1966. Without question, the members of the 1963 team belonged at Penn regardless of basketball talent.

 


1. Phi Kappa Beta, not to be confused with Phi Beta Kappa, was a junior honor society unique to the University of Pennsylvania. From 1938-1962, the society selected approximately twenty men according to a point scale that awarded points based on grade point average and participation in specific extracurricular activities. The society is essentially the junior year equivalent to the Penn senior honor society, the Sphinx.

2. The School of Allied Medical Professions was founded in 1950 and discontinued in 1982. The school offered undergraduate degrees in three disciplines - Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Medical Technology, providing "the medically-oriented student an unmatched opportunity to combine professional training with an active campus life…."