Rene Portland has been a coach at Penn State for 27 years; doing not too bad of a job. Portland had compiled a very impressive record of 606-236 while at Penn State, and earlier this season became the ninth women’s NCAA basketball coach to win 600 games at one school.
She also had two years left on her contract. Why would somebody toss out a contract when it has two years left; especially when she was accomplishing so much? The spotlight of most articles in this topic has shifted to Tim Curley, the current athletic director since Joe Paterno left that position, to see who he was likely to replace her with.
There has got to be more then meets the eye here. It just doesn’t add up. After further research I was able to uncover some interesting facts.
Why did Portland retire?
The official documents will tell you that she was receiving pressure because of the Lady Nittany Lions’ sub-performance this last season and Portland’s own desire to pursue a different career avenue. Thought entirely possible; it does seem unlikely. What have not been especially publicized are the lawsuits against Portland that were cleared up out of court not more then a month ago.
The lawsuit in question involved a former player named Jennifer Harris and it was filed in December 2005 claiming that Portland had a “no-lesbian” policy on the team while Portland was coaching and that it was this policy that forced her to have to abandon the girl’s basketball program. Jennifer Harris, Curley, the Penn State Athletic Director whom was also named as a defendant, and Rene Portland had reached the out of court settlement towards the end of last month.
Jennifer Harris, who is African American, said in the filing that her coach (Portland) repeatedly asked her to change her to try and look more “feminine” and not to dress so manly. Harris described Portland’s well known policy as ‘no drinking, no drugs, and no lesbians’ and even going as far as to say Portland targeted African American players. Harris’s attorney’s argue that their client is not gay, but was assumed to be a lesbian due to her appearance and clothing choices.
Although Portland firmly denies that this lawsuit did not have anything to do with her resignation it is clear that she has her share of things to hide.
It’s sad to see an amazing career in college coaching come to such a bitter end. For Portland’s own sake I hope she was the actual person who made the decision to retire – and that the decision was not made for her by a higher-up.