Head Coach Penn State 2003-present (8th year)
Head Coach East Tennessee State 1996-2003 (7 years)
Raised in the steel mill country of Monaca, Pa., on the Ohio River just north of Pittsburgh, Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis is well acquainted with hard work, having spent time at the blue-collar jobs in the mills. He also cherishes the close-knit family bonds that paint that region of western Pennsylvania. A cancer survivor from a family that's seen more than its share of the disease, he also knows what it takes to overcome challenges and possesses the steeled determination of someone who has stared adversity in the eye and didn't blink.
In his eighth year leading the Nittany Lion program and 15th as a collegiate head coach, DeChellis, a 1982 Penn State graduate, has used his life lessons to build hard-working, united and determined teams that have mined success where it was previously hard to find.
Named the 2009 Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year by the media voters, DeChellis became just the second Nittany Lion basketball coach ever to earn a coach-of-the-year honor as he led Penn State to one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2008-09. DeChellis guided a Nittany Lion team that started three sophomores and played seven underclassmen in its top 10 to a school-record 27 wins and the program's first-ever national tournament title in winning the 2009 NIT. Along the way Penn State tied a program record for regular season wins (21), posted its second-most Big Ten Conference wins (10) and second-best finish (4th) ever, recorded just the 10th 20-win season in program history, knocked off four Top 25 teams (including a road win at eventual NCAA runner-up Michigan State), set a record for home wins (17) and posted the program's most road wins (6) in the Big Ten era.
DeChellis was rewarded with a three-year contract extension prior to the 2009-10 season that will keep him at Penn State through at least the 2013-14 season. Penn State's remarkable run was led by first-team All-Big Ten, NABC and USBWA all-region selection Talor Battle, the first Lion to earn All-Big Ten honors since 2001, and NIT MVP Jamelle Cornley, who finished his career ranked fourth all-time in scoring and rebounding at Penn State. Neither player was a highly sought blue-chip recruit, but found remarkable success and achievement under the tutelage of DeChellis and his staff.
DeChellis showed his penchant for getting the most out of a program and his players in a seven-year rebuilding project at East Tennessee State (1996-2003) that resulted in three conference divisional titles and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. Prior to that, as a 10-year assistant coach at Penn State, he helped guide the Lions to four straight post-season appearances and six overall. Now, he has put his own Nittany Lion program on a similar path to success stocking the talent base through inspired recruiting, including three top 100 rated recruits in the past three years and a pair of standouts from the Keystone state in 2006, and setting a framework for success both on and off the court.
His coaching performance in 2007-08 had many of his Big Ten colleagues and members of the media pointing to him as the conference's coach-of-the-year then. Primed for a run to the post-season in his fifth year at the helm, DeChellis saw his leading scorer and rebounder and preseason All-Big Ten first-team pick Geary Claxton go down with a torn ACL 16 games into the season. Second leading scorer and rebounder Jamelle Cornley also suffered a knee injury that limited him for much of the season and caused him to miss six games, including the last three. All DeChellis did was lead a team that started four freshmen and five newcomers to its most Big Ten wins (7) and best Big Ten finish (7th) since 2001. Along the way his young Lions knocked off No. 7 Michigan State and No. 17 Indiana while winning five straight home games to end the campaign.
"Eddie DeChellis did a wonderful job at East Tennessee State," ESPN's Tom Brennan said in January of 2006, "...When you sit back and look at it, their really making great strides (at Penn State)."
DeChellis' recruiting and coaching helped Penn State claim its first ever Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year (Jamelle Cornley, 2006) and three straight members of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team (Marlon Smith, 2004; Geary Claxton, 2005; Jamelle Cornley, 2006). The Lions had none before his arrival. He also set about changing and revitalizing the program's culture - stressing family, a team-first attitude and a commitment to excellence without short-cuts that his players have embraced and taken ownership of whole-heartedly.
The Nittany Lions reached the post-season in 2006, DeChellis' third year at the helm. Despite playing the youngest (12 underclassmen and one senior) and smallest line-up (just one player over 6-6 playing more than four minutes per game in league play) in the Big Ten, DeChellis led Penn State to its most overall wins (15-15), most non-conference wins (8-3), most Big Ten wins (6-10), first Big Ten Tournament win and first post-season appearance (NIT) in five seasons. The Lions' three Big Ten road wins tied for the program's most ever and the third-best mark in the conference, including a huge upset victory at No. 6 Illinois that ended the Illini's 33-game home win streak and marked the biggest road win in program history. Penn State swept two conference opponents (Purdue and Northwestern) for the first time since 1997-98, beat Indiana for just the third time in program history, and posted its best marks in scoring, assists, steals and shooting percentages and fewest turnovers in five or more seasons.
"What DeChellis is doing at Penn State is (remarkable)," ESPN's Brent Musburger said late in the 2005-06 season. "Ed DeChellis is my choice for (Big Ten) coach of the year."
DeChellis wrapped up the year by being named the 2006 National Coaches Vs. Cancer Man-of-the-Year for his contributions in raising funds and awareness in the fight against cancer. DeChellis was presented the award by ESPN's Jay Bilas before a large gathering of his peers at the Laurel Valley Golf Club in western Pennsylvania. Past recipients of the award include Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and former Missouri coaching legend Norm Stewart.
"It is tremendous for Ed and great for Penn State to have our basketball coach recognized and represent the University in this way," Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley said. "Ed has made a terrific impact not only on our basketball program but in the community, and this is a testament to his perseverance and hard work."
Penn State was coming off two consecutive seven-win seasons when DeChellis was named the 11th head coach in program history in April of 2003. Energizing the fans and players immediately, he helped guide Penn State to nine wins in his first season, better than each of the prior two seasons, with fewer players on scholarship than the previous year. DeChellis also helped guide Penn State to more Big Ten wins than the previous season as well. At the end of the 2003-04 season, freshman Marlon Smith became the first Nittany Lion to ever be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman squad. Smith and teammate Ben Luber also received Street and Smith Freshman All-American honorable mention.
The Nittany Lions made important strides the following year (2004-05), with five new players playing integral parts on the team, including a group of freshmen that logged countless minutes and emerged as on-the-floor leaders. Geary Claxton's selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team capped a season in which the players enjoyed the new style that DeChellis brought to the table and the fans quickly hopped on board with average attendance rising by over 10 percent from the previous campaign.
DeChellis has also placed a premium on molding student-athletes into outstanding well-rounded citizens. DeChellis demands dedication in the classroom and involvement in the community. Every senior that has played for DeChellis at Penn State and East Tennesse State has earned his degree. Four members of his ETSU teams earned Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll status in each of his first two years. Penn State earned a record eight Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2007 and 9 in the last three years, had 11 players earn a 3.0 grade-point average or higher for the second time and four earn Dean's List recognition in 2006-07 (3.5 GPA or higher). In 2008 and 2009 Danny Morrissey was named an CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine All-District II Academic All-American before graduating with a degree in finance.
The East Tennessee State Years
DeChellis returned to Penn State after a very successful seven-year run as the head coach at East Tennessee State University. At ETSU he turned a last place Buccaneer team into a three-time conference division winner, a conference tournament champion and an NCAA Tournament squad.
Taking over a program that went 7-20 the year before his arrival, DeChellis amassed a 105-93 record in his seven years as head coach from 1996-97 to 2002-03. Showcasing the ability to build a program from the foundation up, DeChellis had his most successful seasons in his last three years. During that span, his ETSU teams went 56-31 and won three straight Southern Conference North Division titles.
In 2002-03, DeChellis guided a very young team to the Southern Conference Tournament championship and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. A No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament, DeChellis nearly coached his squad to an upset of No. 2 seed Wake Forest before falling, 76-73, in the game's final minute.
Further evidence of the stability he brought to the ETSU program is the fact that his 2002-03 roster sported only three seniors, and only one started. DeChellis' teams posted a 60-49 conference record during his tenure, going 58-37 over the last six seasons. His 105 career coaching victories rank third in ETSU history.
Coaching Career Beginnings
DeChellis began his coaching career in Happy Valley, serving as a graduate assistant coach under Dick Harter and then Bruce Parkhill. He moved on to Salem College in Salem, West Virginia, in 1984 where he had a two-year stint as an assistant coach. While at Salem, DeChellis also served as the school's Director of Intramurals. Showcasing the overall commitment to the growth of the young people he comes into contact with, DeChellis increased the Salem program from a four-sport entity into a broad-based program offering 40 activities to over 800 students -- all in just two years, and all while serving as an assistant basketball coach.
In 1986, DeChellis returned to Penn State and began a very successful 10-year run as an assistant coach for nine years under Bruce Parkhill, a mentor to whom he credits his development as a coach, and one season under Jerry Dunn. During his time as a Nittany Lion assistant, Penn State made the transition to the Big Ten Conference and had some outstanding post-season success.
DeChellis helped guide Penn State to four straight post-season appearances from 1989 through 1992. During that four-year span of 20+ win seasons, Penn State posted an impressive 87-40 record.
The 1988-89 squad went 20-12, advanced to the Atlantic 10 Tournament finals and then on to the National Invitation Tournament.
The next season, Penn State set a school record for wins in a season posting a 25-9 record. The Nittany Lions advanced to the 1990 NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden, earning third place.
Building on two straight NIT appearances and a record-setting season, DeChellis helped the 1990-91 Penn State team to earn the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1965. Penn State went 21-11 and won the Atlantic 10 Tournament title. That win propelled Penn State into the NCAA Tournament and a first round upset of 16th-ranked UCLA. Penn State barely missed out on a trip to the Sweet 16 when it dropped an overtime heart-breaker to Eastern Michigan in the second round.
The 1991-92 season was a transitional year for Penn State as its affiliation with the Atlantic 10 ended and the Nittany Lions spent a year as an independent with Big Ten play just a year away. The Nittany Lions went 21-8 and earned another trip to the NIT.
Entrance into the Big Ten was a learning and growing experience for the entire Nittany Lion athletic program, but improvement and growth occurred quickly for the basketball program. After a slow start in its initial year, Penn State improved in each year of conference play.
Penn State went 2-16 the first year in the loop, tripled that win total in year two going 6-12, and improved yet again with a 9-9 showing in 1994-95. That team went 21-11 overall and earned another trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals and took home another third place finish.
The following year, utilizing many players that DeChellis helped recruit, Penn State had its most successful Big Ten season to date and earned a second trip to the NCAA Tournament for DeChellis.
With Parkhill resigning prior to the start of the 1995-96 season, Dunn, an assistant on the Penn State staff with DeChellis, took over the helm of the Lion ship. He and DeChellis helped guide Penn State to a 21-7 record, a best-ever 12-6 mark and second place finish in Big Ten play, a top 10 national ranking, and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
After the success at Penn State, it was obvious to many around the nation that DeChellis was part of a staff that knew how to build a program and soon East Tennessee State came calling for his first head coaching stint.
Education & Family DeChellis' commitment to academic excellence and community involvement stems from his experiences and influences as an undergraduate at Penn State. Academics and athletics have always gone hand in hand at Penn State and DeChellis' is committed to continuing that tradition. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education from Penn State in 1982.
He leads Penn State's Coaches Vs. Cancer organization, which celebrated its 14th anniversary in 2010. With a year-around slate of events such as a Celebrity Golf Tournament, Reverse Car Auction and Student Fun Run, PSU CVC annually ranks among the top 10 programs in the nation. DeChellis' drive and ingenuity have pushed the CVC chapter to record heights, raising a record of more than $207,000 last year, up more than $120,000 from before his arrival, and surpassing more than $1.5 million total funds raised, including nearly $900,000 in the last five years. DeChellis, whose father, Richard, died of cancer when he was in graduate school, and mother, Audrey, was taken by the disease on Christmas day 2007, has been a huge advocate and fundraiser for the program, which emphasizes immediate grass roots assistance to those stricken by cancer in the Centre Region.
DeChellis also served as the honorary chairman of the Centre County Toys for Tots campaign in 2009 and has pushed his players to become active in the community supporting such events as the Special Olympics, Penn State Dance Marathon, Centre County Food Bank and Operation Warm.
The return of the DeChellis family to Happy Valley was not just a homecoming for Ed, but for his wife, Kim, who is a native of Butler, Pa. The DeChellis' have three daughters: Casey, Erin, and Lauren. Eldest daughter, Casey, was married in the summer of 2006 in Johnson City, Tenn., to Andrew McKeehan and the couple welcomed a daughter, Sophia, in 2008. Erin and Lauren are both attending college at Penn State.