Anybody who has been a fan of Penn State basketball for the past 10 years or so has heard the Steve Lavin story. During the post-Jerry Dunn coaching search several rumors surfaced that recently (at the time) fired UCLA head coach and now Saint John’s coach Steve Lavin had shown interest in coaching at Penn State.
For Lavin it made sense, he was coming off of a 7 year tenure at UCLA which included 6 straight 20+ win seasons which included 6 NCAA tournament teams. Coming to Penn State gave him a chance to build a program in the Big Ten, one of the nations most respected conferences.
For Penn State is gave them a big name coach willing to take a chance at building a program into a contender in the Big Ten. Seemingly it was a win-win for everyone involved.
David Jones caught up with Lavin after a Saint John’s victory over Villanova, a Saint John’s team that has gone from a basement Big East team to one of the most dangerous teams in the nation with a 19-9 record in one season under Lavin.
“I’d just gotten fired at UCLA. I sent Penn State a resume and left a couple of phone messages. Never heard anything back from them.”
For Lavin undoubtedly the biggest issue getting the job at Penn State was the money. He currently makes over a million dollars a year while Ed DeChellis makes about $500,000. This has made it pretty clear that Penn State has a maximum they’re willing to pay their basketball coach and it speaksto the future of the program that turned down a unique opportunity to change the culture of the program.
While Jones’ report only affirms what many people had already taken as fact, it seems likely that DeChellis will continue to fit the mold that the athletic department has shaped over the past 20 years. In a lot of respects the coaching search that Penn State would have in a post-DeChellis era would be the same as it always has been. Low cost, “safe”, coaches with a respectable background. DeChellis has certainly tested Penn State fan’s patience but has gained respect in coaching circles for his well run practices and apparent Xs and Os genius. It’s the sort of thing the athletic department likes to hear.
So while calling for DeChellis to be fired may make you feel better, there isn’t really any indication that Penn State is willing to drop the big money to get a big name. That isn’t speculation, it’s history.