Written By Francis Mizner
On Tuesday afternoon Mike Rhoades, a central PA native and graduate of Lebanon Valley College, was introduced to the Penn State community as the new head coach of the Men’s basketball team during his introductory press conference.
Athletic Director Pat Kraft began his opening remarks by saying, “We wanted to find a coach who wanted to be at Penn State. We wanted someone who had the same confidence and chip on their shoulder as we do as an organization…someone who wasn’t going to back down but fight and fight for Penn State.”
Kraft later complemented Rhoades’s past success and ability to win, “he knows how to win, he understands what it takes at every level, he’s going to recruit elite student-athletes, and be great ambassadors for the brand.”
As Rhoades first took to the podium he recognized the Legion of Blue, the student-named cheer section, and said, “we’re here for you, Penn State has always been about its students, our basketball program has always been about our students.”
Rhoades added that he and his wife Jodie would create something bigger than “we are going to build something that goes beyond the court and into people’s lives.”
The staff that will accompany Rhoades was also introduced, including Jamal Blunt, J.D. Byers, Brent Scott, Jimmy Martelli, and Joe Crispin. Crispin is a former Penn State Basketball alum who played for two years in the NBA.
Rhoades’s primary message to the media was the intent to build something that is, “bold, different and aggressive and not be afraid.” He then recognized the people and work ethic of those in the state college community by saying, “like the people of this commonwealth and this university, every day we’re going to work, we will be blue collar, we will have dirt on our hands and will be damn proud of it.”
Rhoades ended his statement the same way he started recognizing the legion of blue, “we came here to win, and we came here to win big.”
When asked about signing the seven-year deal and releasing the contract details, Rhoades said, “We’re putting it all on the table so everybody knows what we’re doing… it’s Penn State who wouldn’t want to be here.”
Both Rhoades and Kraft were adamant about the importance of NIL deals. But, Kraft said, “It’s the world we live in right now and we got to be aggressive and we got to do it now.”
Francis Mizner covers Penn State Basketball for Insider Institute, Follow him @MiznerFrancis1