Penn State Women's Basketball Coach Rene Portland Resigns

Thursday, March 22nd 2007, 10:20 am
By: News On 6

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland resigned, ending a 27-year tenure that included 605 wins and allegations she discriminated against lesbian players.

Portland resigned Wednesday night, the university said in a statement.

The coach faced a series of discrimination allegations during her tenure. Most recently, Portland settled a lawsuit in February by former player Jennifer Harris, who claimed Portland had a "no-lesbian" policy on her team.

Portland built the team into a powerhouse, though the program had slipped to subpar records in recent seasons.

"This was obviously a difficult decision," Portland said in Thursday's statement. "I am very appreciative of the opportunity to coach at Penn State, which has become a special place for me and my family. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the Lady Lion program through the years."

Hired in 1980, Portland compiled a 605-235 record with the Lady Lions, and earlier this season became the ninth women's basketball coach to win 600 games at one school.

"I appreciate what Rene has done for the women's basketball program," athletic director Tim Curley said in the statement. "Rene and her staff have worked very hard to produce teams that were competitive nationally and within the Big Ten."

Penn State played in 21 NCAA tournaments under Portland and advanced to the 2000 Final Four. Portland won five Big Ten championships and two conference tournament titles.

But Penn State finished 14-15 this season, and 13-16 the year before.

Portland played basketball at Immaculata College, winning championships from 1972-74 at the national tournament sponsored by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

A year after graduating from Immaculata, Portland became head coach at Saint Joseph's, leading her first team to a 23-5 record and the AIAW tournament. Portland spent two seasons at Saint Joseph's and two at Colorado, compiling an 87-29 record and leading her teams into postseason play each year.

In 1980, Portland was hired by Joe Paterno to succeed Pat Meiser -- the only head coach Paterno hired during his tenure as Penn State's athletics director.