Thursday, March 22, 2007

R.I.P. Portland?

The Philadelphia Inquirer writes Rene Portland's professional obituary.

Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland is considering stepping down, sources familiar with the situation said last night.

Penn State officials and the 54-year-old coach were not available for comment last night.

The news on Portland comes several months after an out-of-court settlement in a controversial case involving former player Jennifer Harris, who claimed Portland dismissed her from the squad in March 2005 because the Penn State coach perceived her to be a lesbian.

Since Harris' departure to James Madison University, the Nittany Lions have suffered two straight losing seasons, the first under Portland in her 27 years in charge of the program.


In 1991, Portland's team earned its first No. 1 ranking in the weekly Associated Press poll. She was named the coach of the year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association that season.

That same year, however, an article in The Inquirer noted the Penn State coach's negative attitude toward players who were gay.

The Harris controversy brought Portland's views back into the spotlight.

Penn State launched a six-month internal investigation and found that Harris' perceived sexual orientation by Portland caused the coach to create a "hostile, intimidating and offensive environment."

On April 18, 2006, university president Graham Spanier announced that Portland had been fined $10,000 and required to undergo diversity and inclusiveness training.

He added that Portland would be fired if she was found to violate the school's anti-discrimination policy.

Portland's response was to say the investigation was "flawed." She continued to contest the charges until an out-of-court settlement was reached.

A stipulation of the settlement was that neither side reveal the results.

We will likely never know if Portland's retirement was part of that settlement.

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