After two seasons, Chambers leaves BU for Penn State

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / June 4, 2011

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Two years ago, when Boston University athletic director Mike Lynch decided to fire men’s basketball coach Dennis Wolff, he went into a fast-paced search for a replacement and came up with Villanova associate head coach Patrick Chambers.

Chambers spent two years building and selling and coaching — primarily with Wolff’s players — and the Terriers produced back to-back 21-win seasons, including an America East tournament title this spring.

It also elevated the profile of the 39-year-old Chambers, who moved to a bigger stage yesterday afternoon when Penn State named him its new coach.

For Chambers, the move made perfect sense as he concluded a whirlwind week of negotiations. He received a multiyear contract that could be worth nearly triple what he was to earn at BU, which was around $250,000 annually after he signed an extension, through 2015-16, in May.

Sources at BU said Chambers was bought out of his contract for approximately $300,000.

“Penn State basketball begins a new era today, and Patrick Chambers ushers in that era with proven success, an appreciation of and commitment to Penn State ideals, and the energy and enthusiasm required to compete at the highest level,’’ Nittany Lions athletic director Tim Curley said in a statement. “His outstanding record of achievement in a relatively young coaching career is a direct testament to his knowledge of the game, his passion for his players and his relentless pursuit of success.

“We’re confident that under Pat’s leadership, the Nittany Lion basketball program will rise to new heights in the years ahead.’’

Chambers also followed the script.

“I am truly honored and excited to be joining the Penn State family,’’ Chambers said. “I’m looking forward to bringing passion, energy and enthusiasm to Nittany Lion basketball. We will play a style, and bring an attitude, that Nittany Nation can be proud of.’’

Lynch has already started his search for a replacement. Lynch used an executive search firm in finding Chambers, but that process lasted several weeks. Sources at BU said this search might be completed in a matter of days.

If Lynch wants to stay local he could take a look at BC associate head coach Joe Jones, who was head coach at Columbia before joining Steve Donahue’s staff last season. He could also consult Northeastern assistant Pat Duquette, who was on Al Skinner’s staff at BC.

Lynch could also consider Skinner, who certainly has the credentials coaching in the Atlantic 10, Big East, and ACC.

Another potential candidate is Louisville associate head coach Richard Pitino, who was in the BU mix the last time. But Pitino, after a two-year stint at Florida, has rejoined his father Rick at Louisville and may be the head coach-in-waiting.

Another possibility could be former Celtic Walter McCarty, who served on Pitino’s staff at Louisville and is currently an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers. Sources with the Pacers say the 37-year-old McCarty would love to return to Boston with his family.

And then there is the alma mater connection. Former BU player Scott Spinelli, who has been an assistant at Nebraska, Wichita State, Texas A&M, and now Maryland (recently joining Mark Turgeon’s staff), might be receptive to a call from Lynch to come home.

While Lynch would not discuss his search last night, it seems clear that he wants to have his new coach as quickly as possible. Associate head coach Brian Daly was named on an interim basis.

“I would like to thank Pat for his contributions to Boston University and to our men’s basketball program,’’ Lynch said in a statement. “As our head coach, he helped return BU to its winning tradition. We have a very bright future and I am confident that we will find a replacement who will continue to build on our tradition of excellence.’’

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at