May 23, 2011
Ed DeChellis PRESS CONFERENCE
Thank all of you for coming. It's been a very, very difficult weekend for me and my family. If I break down, there is good reason for that. Penn State is a special place for me and my family, but I found another special place in the United States NavalAcademy. Kim and I had an opportunity to visit and when we walked through the yard and saw the Midshipmen march, it was a great sense of pride to me, to Kim, to my daughter Lauren, about what the Naval Academy was all about.
It was something that was very, very powerful. I can't explain it unless you've been there and done it. It was more like, without being too philosophical, it was like a calling, like this was something that I needed to do and this was where I needed to be. As hard as it is today to separate from Penn State, I think it's more like, again I don't want to be too philosophical, but the people who are privileged to work at the Academy kind of know what I'm speaking to.
I think to work with young men who are aspiring leaders of the military is very special and I really welcome that opportunity. I think that it's a great fit for us right now in my career, and where we are in our lives with my family. We look forward to living in Annapolis, but we've enjoyed our time in State College. Penn State has been very, very good to me. [PennState Director of Athletics] Tim [Curley] has been very, very supportive. It's been a great run, we've won some games, built some great memories with wonderful kids. We were able to graduate [student-athletes] and have some fun.
A lot of people are wondering about the timing of this because it's kind of a strange time for a coach to make a change after recruiting has been done, and that kind of thing, and also not many coaches go from a major conference to the Patriot League, a lot of people are scratching their head over that, could you address those two topics?
The job didn't open until a couple weeks ago. I can't control that. I wasn't actively wanting to go anywhere. This is something that is very, very special. The Academy is very, very special. I haven't done a good job of articulating this to you, I apologize. It's not about going from the Big Ten to the Patriot League, it's about working at the Naval Academy and having the opportunity to work with young men who want to serve our country. I feel in some small way that is my civic duty. Believe me, I'm a very small part of it, but I feel this is something I can give back. I don't know if you've ever been to the Academy, but it's very special.
Last Spring or Summer you had the Navy SEALs come in, what kind of impact did they have on you?
Yeah, Bubby (Talor Battle
) texted me this afternoon and said, "Eric Kapitulik got to you, Coach." It really does make you think what these young men go through everyday to protect all of us. I don't know how important a part that was, but it did open my eyes to another side of things.
Did you talk to the team yet, how did they handle the news?
I've called every guy and I've spoke to every guy, but one or two as well as the incoming guys, so that was my first and foremost thoughts was to our current guys and our incoming guys. It was very, very difficult.
It was reported earlier that you had been seeking another job, you just said you hadn't been actively wanting to go anywhere, can you address what was reported?
Why would I address what someone else has to say? That's why you're not with me, this is so much different. It's not about me. If I wanted to leave Penn State, I could've left Penn State. I didn't want to leave Penn State. This was an agonizing decision and it had to take a special place for me to leave my alma mater and leave my team, who I think is going to be a very young next year but I liked our team and I thought we had a chance to be pretty good next year.
First, what is the status of your staff, your assistants and, second, with all due respect to what you said about the Navy job, how you do you think this affects the perception of the Penn State job?
This is a great job. It's not about the job (at Penn State). This is a great job. This is a Big Ten job. We've got great facilities. We've got all the bells and whistles to be competitive. For me, it's not about the bells and whistles. It's not about bigger arenas anymore. It's about something different. iI's about me kind of doing what I want to do, which is work with young guys and recruit young guys who want to represent our nation. Our staff, Kurt [Kanaskie] and Danny [Earl], understood. They said, `Coach, this is who you are.' My wife driving home last week - I said, `What do you think?' She just said `This is who you are, this is what you stand for: morals, values, ethics, hard work, determination, all those words.' So I hope Kurt and Danny understand. I hope they come to the Naval Academy with me if it doesn't work out here for them. They're valued coaches. They're good guys. Penn State would be thankful to keep them, they're good coaches.
When did you get the offer from Navy and how long did you have to think about it and get back to them?
It was reallyyesterday I got back to them. I had the offer, I just kind of wanted to make sure and sleep on things. Admiral Miller (superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy) was tremendous, (Navy Athletic Director) Chet Gladchuk was tremendous, giving me time and latitude to think about things and think through things. I talked to him yesterday afternoon and I was going to take the job.
When do you start?
I don't know. I'm going to go down for graduation this weekend, it's very, very special. The guys will be commissioned this weekend. Secretary Gates is going to be speaking, and I'm looking forward to that.
When you came here eight years ago you said you wanted to make Penn State basketball healthy again, did you accomplish that goal?
Yes, you always like to leave a program in better shape than when you arrived. I think, quite honestly, that's what the case is here. So I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish and proud of our kids we've had in the program. Hopefully, they'll hire a great coach. I'm sure Tim will bring a great college basketball coach here and things are inplace for Penn State to be as good as anywhere else in the Big Ten. I trulybelieve that.
Was it tougher than you thought it was going to be?
Yeah, it was very, very difficult. I can tell you that it was very, very difficult. In Mass yesterday, Father talked about a path and sometimes a path is presented to you and you have to walk down it.
Of all the things you were able to accomplish at Penn State, Coaches vs. Cancer and such, how much of that will you still be involved with? Do you hope to bring that same type of thing to the Naval Academy?
I've asked about that. I don't think that is going to be possible because of, obviously, it's the U.S. government and you can't have government facilities used for different things. I'll try to be involved in the community in a different way, but raising money is very important to me.
I know what a beautiful, special place the Naval Academy is. That being said, this would seem to be an issue of respect from the athletic department and a feeling that you were not appreciated. Is that accurate or inaccurate?
That is inaccurate. I think Tim (Curley) respected the job that we did and thare are administrators in the room who respected the job that we did. This isn't about me leaving Penn State because of something here. It is because of something I am going to. The Naval Academy is going to have its challenges, but every job is going to have its challenges. You have to fight through those challenges.
What about job security? You are going to have five years there and you maybe would have had only one here.
I had multiple years here left on my contract. It's not about that. I can't say that enough. I could have left last year. They could have done something to me last year or the year before or the year before that. It's a lot of `would have, could have, should have.' I have the utmost respect for Penn State and what they have been able to give me and what we have been able to try to give back.
Did you ask for an extension and not get it?
It's not about an extension. It's about what I wanted to do with my life. I can't say that enough. It's about what the Naval Academy offered me and my family at this point in my career. It's a different lifestyle; a different way of life. But it's basketball; it's competing. Basketball is basketball. We will be as competitive as heck and I think we are going to put a great program together. But it's not about those other things with me anymore. It's just not.
Can you talk about the difficulties associated with coaching at the Naval Academy considering the requirements of the students are unlike any other except for the other service academies? It hasn't been the easiest place to win over the years.
Every job has its challenges and recruiting quality students and athletes is certainly a very important part of the academy. Ken (Niumatalolo) has done an unbelievable job with the football program, as well as the other coaches there. I am willing to try to learn the formula there as quickly as I can. I am going to reach out to former coaches at the academy like Don DeVoe and Doug Wojcik, who was his assistant, and get their thoughts. Don was very successful there. Paul Evans was very successful there. Navy has had some tradition in basketball. Now we need to try to go back in there and duplicate it and put a program togetherthat can win the Patriot League and get back to the NCAA Tournament. That's something that is very, very exciting for me. I have coached at two institutions and have gone to the NCAA Tournament at both and now I have the opportunity to go to a third institution and coach.
Have you had a chance to speak with any of the Navy players or assistant coaches and, if not, when do you plan to do that?
I have not been able to do that yet, to be quite honest with you. That's in the plans in the near future. I have a call in tonight. I am going to try to get down to Annapolis as soon as I can and start that process.