Before going to Temple, and playing under Hall of Fame college coach Wayne Hardin (the former Navy coach who coached two Heisman Trophy winners in Joe Bellino ’60 and Roger Staubach ’63), Klecko played semi-pro football for the Aston (Pennsylvania) Knights of the Seaboard Football League and kept his eligibility by playing under the assumed name “Jim Jones” from the fictional “Poland University.” He also won two NCAA club boxing titles in the heavyweight division. Klecko played high school football at St. James Catholic High School for Boys in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Klecko led the Temple Owls in tackles his last three seasons (1974 – 1976), twice making the All-East team and receiving All-American mention as a junior and senior. He was the ECAC’s Rookie of the Week on October 27, 1973, after Temple’s 31–8 victory over the University of Delaware Blue Hens, in which he had five sacks and 15 tackles. He was inducted into the Temple University Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
During the 1950s, the Temple basketball team made two NCAA Final Four appearances (1956, 1958) under legendary Head Coach Harry Litwack. Litwack would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after concluding a 21-year coaching career that included 373 wins. Head Coach John Chaney, also a Hall of Famer, won a total of 724 career games and took Temple to the NCAA tournament 17 times. His 1987 – 1988 Owls team entered the NCAA tournament ranked #1 in the country, and he has reached the Elite Eight on five occasions. He was consensus national coach of the year in 1988. Former NBA players Eddie Jones of the Miami Heat, Aaron McKie of the Los Angeles Lakers, Rick Brunson of the New York Knicks, and Mardy Collins, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers, are also part of Temple’s basketball heritage.
College Sports Established
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
2013 – Present / American Athletic Conference
2005 – 2012 / Mid-American Conference
1951 – 2004 / Big East Conference
1955 – 1996 / Philadelphia Big Five
Owls – The owl has been the symbol and mascot for Temple University since its founding in the 1880s. Temple was the first school in the United States to adopt the owl as its symbol or mascot. The owl, a nocturnal hunter, was initially adopted as a symbol because Temple University began as a night school for young people of limited means. Russell Conwell, Temple’s founder, encouraged these students with the remark: “The owl of the night makes the eagle of the day.”
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