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Updated: 4:15 p.m.
Bill Cosby has resigned from his position on the Temple Board of Trustees, according to a statement released Monday by the university.
“I have always been proud of my association with Temple University,” Cosby said in the prepared statement. “I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students. As a result, I have tendered my resignation from the Temple University Board of Trustees.”
Cosby, who is 77, had served on the Board since 1982.
Temple University’s Board of Trustees, which accepted Cosby’s resignation and thanked him for his services, was scheduled to meet “soon” to discuss Bill Cosby’s seat on the board, and his continued connections to the university, a trustee told Billy Penn Monday.
Before Cosby’s statement, Nelson Diaz, a Temple trustee and partner at Dilworth Paxson, said that he had “no idea” whether the school had plans to cut ties itself with Cosby, the TV legend and comedian who’s been under fire after 20 women said he sexually assaulted them. Diaz wouldn’t specify when the meeting was set to occur, but trustees are scheduled to meet next Tuesday, Dec. 9 for a general meeting.
“They’re going to have a meeting on that issue,” Diaz said Monday morning. “So I don’t know what they’re going to do with that. They just sent out a notice for the meeting.”
A Temple University spokesperson couldn’t confirm details of such a meeting being scheduled, but trustee Anthony J. McIntyre told Billy Penn “a statement might be coming shortly.” An hour later, Cosby resigned.
“It’s a big blow to us either way. It’s terrible,” McIntyre, the area president for Gallagher McIntyre insurance firm, said. “I’m an alumni of Temple… I feel sick about it.”
Cosby was recently unanimously re-elected to the Temple Board of Trustees, but the minutes from that meeting have not been publicly posted. Twenty women have come forward, many of them in recent months, saying that they were sexually assaulted by Cosby, the long-time comedian and star of The Cosby Show. Despite the allegations, Cosby has not been charged with a crime — nevertheless, the comedian has deep roots with the school and with the city.
Cosby grew up in the Richard Allen homes in North Philly, and attended Temple in 1961. He left to start his comedy career after one year, later earning his degree in the 1970s. Since making it big, he has continually given back to Temple. He’d routinely wear Temple sweatshirts in public appearances and has paid for tuition and fees for more than 40 Temple students. In 2003, former Temple chancellor Peter Liacouras described Cosby’s contributions to the university as “priceless.”
UMass Amherst announced Wednesday that it had severed its ties with Cosby. However, on Friday, The Inquirer quoted Robert Rovner, a lawyer who’s a trustee ex-officio and isn’t in favor of removing Cosby, whom he called a “role model”: “(I)n America, people are innocent until proven guilty. I’ll give my friend Bill Cosby the benefit of the doubt.. therefore, I would not throw him under the bus … I have mixed emotions because I do have feelings for any of the women who made accusations, but on the other hand, there are two sides to every story. Some of them made accusations 15 to 20 years later. Some of them may have tried to use Bill Cosby to get into show business.”
Berklee School of Music and High Point University in North Carolina also both announced they would break with Cosby following the recent influx of sexual assault allegations.
More than 1,000 people have signed a Change.org petition for Temple to cut ties with Cosby.
Billy Penn will update this story as more information becomes available.