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Embattled Rene Portland resigns from Penn State

(This story was published in 2007).

Rene Portland, women’s basketball coach at Penn State for the past 27 years, who claimed she had a "no lesbians" policy on her team, has resigned, effective immediately.

Portland submitted her resignation to Tim Curley, Director of Athletics, yesterday evening. Curley said a nationwide search for a new coach will begin immediately.

Portland was the focus of an investigation and lawsuit brought by former Penn State player Jennifer Harris who claimed she was forced from the basketball team because Portland perceived her to be lesbian. Penn State reprimanded Portland and settled with Harris just over a year ago.

“This was obviously a difficult decision,” said Portland. “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.”

“I appreciate what Rene has done for the women’s basketball program,” Curley said. “Rene has been a member of the Penn State and State College communities for more than 25 years and has had a positive impact on the lives of student-athletes and others outside of the basketball program. Rene and her staff have worked very hard to produce teams that were competitive nationally and within the Big Ten. I join all Penn Staters in wishing Rene and her family the best in the future.”

A native of Broomall, Pa., Portland is a 1975 graduate of Immaculata College and played on three consecutive national championship teams. She was named head coach at St. Joseph’s for the 1976-77 season and coached there for two years before a two-year tenure at Colorado. She was named Penn State’s fourth head coach in program history on May 20, 1980.

Portland compiled a 606-236 overall record during her tenure as head coach of the Lady Lions. She previously coached at St. Joseph’s and Colorado and has a career mark of 693-265 over 31 seasons. Penn State was 15-16 this season, with a 7-9 mark in Big Ten play. Earlier this season Portland became just the ninth women’s basketball coach to win 600 games at one school.

The Lady Lions played in 21 NCAA Tournaments under Portland, advancing to the 2000 Final Four, and won the 1998 Women’s NIT. During Portland’s tenure as head coach, Penn State earned five Big Ten Championships since starting play in the conference in 1992-93 and two Big Ten Tournament titles.

Outsports.com & PSU press release contributed to this story