Penn State's DeChellis heading to Navy

Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis announces that he's leaving his alma mater to become the head coach at Navy during a press conference Monday May 23, 2011 in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/John Beale)

May 23, 2011 7:24:41 PM PDT
Coach Ed DeChellis, who led Penn State to the NCAA tournament this year, resigned Monday to take the vacant job at Navy.

The move comes as a surprise, after DeChellis orchestrated his alma mater's first NCAA bid in a decade. The Nittany Lions lost to Temple, 66-64, in the second round.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be the next head basketball coach at the United States Naval Academy," DeChellis said in a statement released by the Midshipmen. DeChellis had declined comment when contacted by the AP.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg first reported the story late Monday afternoon. A news conference at Penn State was scheduled for Monday evening.

Penn State athletic director Tim Curley said the school would launch a national search for a replacement.

"Ed and his staff built a strong foundation for the program," Curley said in a statement praising DeChellis' work on and off the court.

DeChellis' eight-year run at Penn State includes the 2009 NIT championship. He was rewarded with a three-extension later that year that would have kept him in Happy Valley until 2014.

The school doesn't typically release salaries, though an open records request in 2009 showed DeChellis made more than $642,000.

After an 11-20 season in 2009-10, the Nittany Lions (19-15) secured an NCAA appearance this past season after surging into the Big Ten tournament finals before losing to Ohio State. Career leading scorer Talor Battle led the way.

"Ed's maturity, integrity, character and accomplishments at Penn State have made him one of the most respected role models in the coaching ranks," Navy athletic director Chet Gladcuck said. A cancer survivor, DeChellis was a tireless advocate for the Coaches vs. Cancer charitable organization.

But a program seemingly in perennial rebuilding mode already faced another rebuilding year in 2011-12 with Battle and three other senior starters out of eligibility. Plus, Battle's half-brother, talented guard Taran Buie, left the program this offseason following a rocky freshman year filled with off-court issues.

DeChellis finished with a 114-138 record at Penn State, but was 41-95 in the regular season in the Big Ten. Counting a previous seven-year stint at East Tennessee State, DeChellis has a career coaching record of 219-231.

The Navy job opened up after Billy Lange resigned earlier this month following a second straight losing season. Lange took an assistant coaching job at Villanova.