STATE COLLEGE - Ed DeChellis, who led Penn State to the NCAA Tournament this year, resigned yesterday to take the vacant basketball coaching job at Navy.
The 15-year coaching veteran said he found "a calling" in announcing the surprise move 2 months after orchestrating his alma mater's first NCAA bid in a decade. The Nittany Lions lost to Temple, 66-64, in the second round.
"It's been a very, very dificult weekend for me and my family. If I break down, there's good reason for that," DeChellis said during a 20-minute news conference at the Jordan Center. "Penn State is a special place for me and my family, but I found another special place in the U.S. Naval Academy."
He goes from a power conference school to a program that plays in the brainy Patriot League. DeChellis took the job on Sunday.
"It was very, very difficult. At Mass [Sunday], father talked about a path. Sometimes a path is presented to you that you have to be able to walk down," he said before stopping to compose himself before nearly tearing up.
In a statement, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley said the school would launch a national search for a replacement.
DeChellis' 8-year run at Penn State includes the 2009 NIT championship. He was rewarded with a 3-year extension later that year that would have kept him in Happy Valley until 2014.
An open-records request in 2009 showed DeChellis made more than $642,000.
After an 11-20 season in 2009-10, the Nittany Lions (19-15) secured an NCAA appearance this past season after surging into the Big Ten Tournament finals before losing to Ohio State, 71-60.
The Navy job opened up after Billy Lange resigned earlier this month following a second straight losing season. Lange took an assistant-coaching job at Villanova.