Steve Bilsky – Penn Athletic Director
Steve Bilsky has served as Penn’s athletic director since 1994 and was also an All-Ivy guard during their nationally ranked basketball seasons of 1970 and 1971. Additionally, Steve was inducted into both the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame and Penn Athletics Hall of Fame.
Drexel University’s Daskalakis Arena may not compare with Penn Athletics Director Steve Bilsky knows it would be like comparing Marilyn Monroe with an animal.
Early Life and Education
Steve Bilsky was an impressive force both on and off the basketball court at Penn. Hailing from Roslyn, New York, Bilsky earned three All-Ivy League guard honors during 1970-71 when Penn achieved one of its greatest seasons: 26-0 regular season record and top three national ranking! Since 1994 as Athletic Director he has expanded competition, activities, and facilities for Penn’s men’s and women’s teams.
He was honored with induction into both the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame and University of Pennsylvania Athletics Hall of Fame, while being selected in the 19th round of the 1971 ABA Draft by Carolina (but did not go on to play professionally).
Bilsky made his mark in athletic administration upon graduating from Penn, serving as assistant athletic director for 20 years at several schools he assisted – most notably at Penn itself where he currently serves as athletic director.
Bilsky hails from Roslyn, New York and was an integral member of one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled in Ivy League history. Together with fellow guard Dave Wohl, they formed an unstoppable backcourt tandem that allowed Penn Quakers to capture two consecutive conference championships between 1970 and 1971.
1969 was an exceptional year for this duo’s success: American troops were fighting intensely in Vietnam while Richard Nixon began his first term as president. The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded them as “the most exciting duo in Philadelphia sports”.
Achievement and Honors
Bilsky served as point guard on Penn’s nationally ranked 1970-71 basketball team that captured two consecutive Ivy League championships, advanced to the East Regional finals of the NCAA tournament and set an all-time school record with 17 free throws made against Columbia.
He has been honored with memberships to both the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame and University of Pennsylvania Athletics Hall of Fame, in addition to serving on the Big Five Conference Executive Committee.
Bilsky has served as Penn’s athletic director since 1994 and since that time has overseen many renovations and upgrades of Penn’s facilities, increased alumni involvement and fundraising, helping establish 10 endowed coaching positions as well as being an advocate for student-athletes; creating the 4.0 Club to recognize those achieving a perfect GPA.
Bilsky made his mark as an All-Ivy League guard and captained Penn’s greatest ever team ever in 1970-71, as an All-Ivy League guard himself. Subsequently he became an insightful athletic director at Penn, expanding activities, competition and facilities for its many men’s and women’s sports teams as well as recreation programs.
Bilsky’s game-winning shot against Villanova in January 1969 came during a time when American troops were still engaged in Vietnam and Richard Nixon had just taken office, yet its legacy lives on today in college basketball circles. A picture commemorating that shot can still be found hanging in Palestra vestibule. It had lasting ramifications.
Bilsky has been an outstanding advocate for Penn student athletes during his nearly two decades as Athletic Director. He is widely recognized for maintaining Penn’s national prominence in NCAA Academic Performance Ratings as well as initiating Penn’s 4.0 Club which recognizes students with GPAs of at least four.
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Bilsky was one of Penn’s 1971 Championship Basketball Team members before going on to serve as Athletic Director at George Washington University – still performing this function today! A regular visitor of Penn’s Palestra and an ardent red and blue supporter, he continues his relationship with Penn basketball today.