Steve Donahue to become Penn coach

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Penn head coach Steve Donahue. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

STEVE DONAHUE is coming home. The Delaware County native and 1984 Ursinus graduate will be formally introduced today as the new Penn basketball coach during a 1 p.m. news conference at the Palestra.

Donahue, an assistant under Fran Dunphy at Penn from 1990 until 2000, was part of six Ivy League champions then, including four unbeaten league seasons and a 114-26 Ivy record.

Donahue left Penn to become the head coach at Cornell in 2000. His administration there was very patient with him as he built the program from scratch. In his final three seasons, Cornell went 72-21 and 38-4 in the Ivy, with three league titles, culminating with a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010.

He left that job for Boston College and won 21 games in his first season, but, like at Cornell, the overall talent level had to be upgraded dramatically in an unforgiving ACC. Working for an administration with much less patience, he was let go after last season, not even given a chance to coach his first recruits as seniors.

"After performing a robust and year-long assessment of the men's basketball program, we entered the search process with a strong sense of the background, skills and character traits we felt were necessary for Penn's next head coach," said Penn's Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, in a statement. "An impressive group of candidates were thoroughly vetted and Steve Donahue clearly rose to the top. Coach Donahue is a nationally recognized coach and proven recruiter with unquestioned integrity. His deep knowledge of and appreciation for Penn basketball, the Ivy model . . . and the Big Five were unparalleled in the search. We are confident in Coach Donahue's ability to return Penn men's basketball to prominence. We welcome Steve, his wife Pamela, and his family back to Philadelphia."

Allen replaces Jerome Allen, who was the first star player on those Penn teams that won so much in the '90s.

"I am thrilled to be coming back to Penn as its head men's basketball coach," Donahue said in a statement. "Having been a part of Philadelphia and Penn basketball for the greater part of my life, I have a great passion for this city and this program. I spent 10 extraordinary years as an assistant here at Penn working with one of the great head coaches in all of college basketball, Fran Dunphy. That, combined with my experiences as head coach at Cornell and Boston College, have led me to this distinct opportunity to return the program that I grew up watching to national prominence. I plan to provide the energy and the enthusiasm that will put Penn basketball back atop the Ivy League."

Before coming to Penn to work for Dunphy, Donahue was an assistant for Herb Magee at Philadelphia University for two seasons. Before that, he was an assistant for current Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon at Monsignor Bonner High. His first coaching job was at Springfield (Delco) High. This season, he was a college basketball analyst for broadcasts on ESPN and Fox. This coming November, Steve Donahue will be back coaching on the sidelines at the Palestra.