TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17: head coach Ed DeChellis of the Penn State Nittany Lions coaches during their game against the Temple Owls in the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
It's Michigan Week here at BT Powerhouse, but big news out of Happy Valley on Monday is causing us to take a quick break from that fun for the moment.
Ed DeChellis announced last evening that he is leaving Penn State for the United States Naval Academy effective immediately, citing a "calling" to work at the service academy and a feeling that it's his "civic duty" to work with men and women serving the nation in uniform.
The Nittany Lions made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his eight-year tenure this past March, but DeChellis will be leaving for a job that pays him over $200,000 less than what he would have made at Penn State Why? David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News thinks he has the answer.
This is move looks like an absolute stunner on the surface – a high-major coach leaving for a low-major job and a pay cut of $200,000 annually. But a lot entered into it that makes it more easy to comprehend.
DeChellis, now 52, is not interested in coaching more than another 8-10 years, tops. He felt a lack of respect and commitment from the Penn State administration. When he asked for raises for his assistants, one of whom is the lowest paid of 36 in the Big Ten, he was rebuked.
After reaching the Big Ten tournament final and squeaking into the NCAA tournament for the first time in his tenure, he was unable to get an extension or raise on a contract lasting three more seasons.
When asked by Jones during a press conference if his decision had anything to do with lack of respect, compensation or job security, DeChellis denied the notion, saying the decision was based more in a desire to coach at Navy than leave Penn State.
As Jones writes, however, DeChellis had been seeking other jobs since March and came close to leaving for another mid-major before settling on Navy. The coach was also among the lowest paid in the conference despite working with one of the league's richest athletic departments.
On top of all of that, Penn State was forced to practice at Penn State's shoddy IM Building to make room for Bon Jovi's tour preparation at the Bryce Jordan Center, which lasted a week and took up not only the main floor, but the adjoining practice facility.
While DeChellis might be helping administration save face by saying the decision wasn't about lack of respect or support for the program, it's not hard to connect the dots, something Penn State alumnus and current ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil was more than willing to do.
If there is an equivalent spin on the coaching carousel, I haven’t thought of it. Why? Because it doesn’t happen. Coaches don’t voluntarily leave major conference jobs for low-major spots.
That DeChellis, a Penn State graduate, defied convention screams loud and clear as to just how bad things are at Penn State.
For years the basketball team has been a little sister of the poor stepchild to football, a winter afterthought given all the tending and care of a vegetable garden positioned in the middle of a nuclear field. Administrative support waffles between tepid applause and casual indifference.
The dirty little truth is, whether the team is good or bad, the university profits thanks to the hefty paycheck doled out by the Big Ten Network. And so the university pays little attention to and cares less about the program.
Strong words from a woman who definitely knows her cookies.
And so, Penn State now embarks on what athletic director Tim Curley claims will be a "national search" for a new head basketball coach. What that means, exactly, is anyone's guess. Penn State could go big and chase hot names like Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart if it wanted to. Goodness knows it has among the deepest pockets in all of college sports. It wouldn't be all that surprising either, though, if the athletic department takes the cheapest route possible and hires one of the remaining assistant coaches, Kurt Kanaskie or former player Dan Earl.
Expect something in between, but obviously, that's a pretty wide spectrum. Nittany Lions fans could have quite a ride ahead of them.
Stay tuned to BT Powerhouse throughout the coaching search and subsequent hiring as Penn State enters the turmoil of transition.