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Everhart withdraws name from PSU search
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Duquesne coach Ron Everhart gathered his players on Thursday for a meeting, and then a get-together at his house, where they all watched Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
After 10 days of speculation as to whether Everhart would leave the Dukes for the vacant position at Penn State, it was finally just a quiet night at home with the guys.
But it felt right. And it made Everhart think he clearly made the right decision earlier in the day.
"There's just a lot of good things going on here at Duquesne, and it's just a good time for us," Everhart said. "It's become a real special place, and this is just the right thing to do."
Everhart, 49, who has led the Dukes to four consecutive winning regular seasons and three straight postseason appearances, withdrew his name from consideration at Penn State. He interviewed with Penn State athletic director Tim Curley on Tuesday at an undisclosed location, and was solidly in the mix along with Milwaukee's Rob Jeter and Boston University's Pat Chambers for the position left vacated by Ed DeChellis, who took the same job at Navy last week.
But Everhart, who is 83-74 at Duquesne, and has three years remaining on a contract that pays him $400,000 per year, elected to stay with the Atlantic-10 program that he rescued from obscurity five years ago.
"Looking back on the whole situation," he said, "I feel that I'm right where I need to be."
The Nittany Lions are coming off a 19-15 season in which they advanced to the NCAA tournament. But the new coach will inherit a rebuilding project as graduations will give the roster a decidedly new look next season. Among the departures will be guard Talor Battle, who averaged 20.2 points per game last season.
Chambers and Jeter have also interviewed, and both have the backing of some powerful college basketball voices. Chambers, a former Villanova assistant, has Wildcats coach Jay Wright in his corner. And Jeter, a former Wisconsin assistant, has Badgers coach Bo Ryan in his.
When news of Everhart broke, various reports circulated that Chambers, who led the Terriers to the NCAA tournament this season, was then offered the position. But later in the night, Curley, through a team spokesman, made a statement to the contrary, saying no contract offer has been made to anyone.
Messages left by the AP this week for Jeter and a Milwaukee athletic department spokesman were not immediately returned. Boston spokesman Scott Ellis declined comment Thursday on behalf of Chambers and the university.
Everhart, who has also coached at McNeese State and Northeastern after playing at Virginia Tech, clearly wants to finish what he started with the Dukes. He inherited a team that went 3-24 in 2005-06, and has had only one losing season since.
But the Dukes have not made the NCAA tournament since the 1976-77 season, and Everhart has never made the NCAA in his 17 years as a Division I coach. So, there is definitely work still to be done in Pittsburgh.
"That's where we need to get to," Everhart said with regards to the NCAA. "That's still out there for us."
Interestingly enough, Everhart and Duquesne lost to Penn State, 77-73, on Dec. 4 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. And the two teams will face each other again next season in Pittsburgh.
Curley, DeChellis' former assistants and several former players were among attendees at an annual Coaches vs. Cancer charity reception at the Jordan Center Thursday, a charity once spearheaded in State College by DeChellis.
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