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Dunn and done

Penn State coach resigns after eight seasons

Posted: Monday March 17, 2003 5:44 PM

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Jerry Dunn, whose rocky tenure included Penn State's best NCAA tournament run in almost 50 years followed by two dismal seasons, resigned Monday.

School officials announced the resignation in a statement and scheduled a news conference for Monday evening.

"This was a very difficult decision," Dunn said in a statement. "I have greatly enjoyed my association with Penn State. I would like to have had more success over the past two seasons, but I am proud of our efforts and what we have accomplished over the past eight years."

Dunn was 117-121 in eight years at Penn State and just 45-87 in Big Ten Conference play. The Nittany Lions won just seven games each in his last two seasons.

Athletic director Tim Curley said a national search would begin immediately for Dunn's successor. Curley didn't release any names, but speculation has centered around Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski.

Duke sports information director John Jackson said Wojciechowski would not be available to comment Monday.

Dunn's tenure was much like Penn State's basketball history -- a rare outstanding year, a couple truly awful teams and a lot of mediocrity.

In 2001, the Nittany Lions reached the NCAA's South Regional semifinals, beating Providence in the first round, then stunning No. 2-seeded North Carolina in the second round, marking the first time since 1954 that Penn State had won two games in the NCAA Tournament.

That run capped an exciting, if inconsistent, season that saw the Nittany Lions lose at home in an exhibition game, then upset Kentucky on the road a month later.

Behind seniors Joe Crispin, Gyasi Cline-Heard and Titus Ivory, the Nittany Lions upset No. 6 Illinois during the regular season, then shocked No. 2 Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. The players were hailed as champions, despite their 84-72 loss to Temple in the regional semifinal.

But if 2001 represented the best of Penn State basketball, the following two years might have been the worst. The Nittany Lions lost their home opener to Yale on the way to a 7-21 record (2-14 in the Big Ten) in 2001-02 -- their worst showing since 1992-93 -- losing seven games by 20 points or more.

Penn State lost its first six nonconference games this season, including two to Ivy League teams. The Nittany Lions' 0-10 start in Big Ten play was the worst since Penn State joined the league in 1992, and their 2-14 conference record tied the 1992-93 season as the worst since joining the Big Ten.

Dunn's first years were largely unremarkable. In his first season replacing Bruce Parkhill, under whom Dunn spent 12 years as an assistant coach, the Nittany Lions posted an impressive 21-7 record, and their 12-6 Big Ten record was Penn State's best since joining the league. But the Lions lost four of their last seven regular-season games and ended the year by being upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The next four seasons saw two losing records and two trips to the NIT.

Mild-mannered off the court, Dunn often clashed with his players. Cline-Heard considered transferring after his junior year, and Jon Crispin, Joe's younger brother and a starter on the 2001 team, transferred to UCLA after his sophomore season.

Dunn became Penn State's first black head basketball coach when he replaced Parkhill in 1995. He came to Penn State in 1983 as an assistant to Parkhill.

Before that, Dunn was an assistant coach at George Mason, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1980. Dunn played basketball at Casper (Wyo.) Junior College, but tendinitis in his knees ended his career before he transferred to George Mason.


 
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