Penn State athletic director Tim Curley addressed the media on Thursday afternoon and talked for nearly 20 minutes about the resignation of Penn State women\’s basketball coach Rene Portland.
He talked about why Portland decided to step down, the state of her coaching staff and the search for a replacement, which will begin immediately.
He began the news conference with an opening statement in which he praised Portland and thanked her for her contributions to Lady Lion basketball, the community and the university as a whole.
Portland was not at the news conference which left Curley to field questions from the media. One of the first questions he was asked was the obvious.
Where is Rene?
\”I can\’t answer that specific question. I don\’t where she is right now,\” Curley said.
One Internet site reported that Portland faced an ultimatum from the university — resign or be fired. Not true, according to the AD.
\”No, she was not forced to make this decision,\” Curley said.
Curley was then asked if he tried to talk Portland out of the decision to resign.
\”I did not try to convince her to change her mind. She had given this a lot of thought. I didn\’t think it was my position to try to change what she had worked through in her situation. I\’ve never been one to try and talk someone out of something they\’d given a lot of thought to,\” Curley said.
At the conclusion of the Lady Lion season, Curley met privately with Portland. He did not go into details about the meeting, however.
\”I don\’t want to get into the details of meetings and conversations.
But yes, I met personally with her and had conversations. But as far as how many times and the details, I don\’t see that being beneficial,\”
So where does that leave the rest of the Lady Lion staff?
Curley said that he has not had an opportunity to sit down with the rest of the Lady Lady Lion coaching staff — associated head coach Annie Troyan and assistant coaches Susan Robinson-Fruchtl and Keila Whittington. He plans to meet with the assistants individually.
\”With this occurring last night and today, I have not had an opportunity to address all of the transition issues, most importantly would be the assistant coaches. I plan to meet with them very soon and address their situations. It\’s too early for me to comment right now,\”
Although it appears unlikely that her replacement will come from the current staff, Curley said that he would not object to her replacement retaining some or all of the current staff.
\”We leave it up to the incoming coach in any sport to select their coaching staff. Certainly if they would be interested in any of those three assistants, that would be fine with us,\” Curley said.
The search for Portland\’s replacement will begin immediately. A committee will look nationally.
\”We will be trying to find the best coach for Penn State. I\’ve always felt very strongly that it needs to be a great fit for Penn State and for the coach,\” Curley said. \”This is a partnership. Penn State is a unique school and I want to make sure that we identify that person that we feel meets all the criteria that we established in a coach.\”
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno hired Portland during his short stint as athletic director. Curley said that Paterno was alerted to the fact that Portland would be stepping down today.
\”I just had a brief conversation with him this morning. I didn\’t have a chance to talk to him at any great length,\” Curley said. \”I did reach out to him this morning to let him know that this decision was made.\”