Friday, March 31, 2023

Penn State Formally Introduces Mike Rhoades as New Men's Basketball Coach

On Thursday, Penn State University held a press conference on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center to formally introduce Mike Rhoades as their new Men's Basketball Coach.

The past seven days of been a whirlwind of change for Schuylkill County native, Mike Rhoades.

Rhoades spent 6 years as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University in which he led the Rams to three NCAA Tournament appearances including the 2023 tournament.  Two weeks ago, the Rams were eliminated from the tournament in the first round.

While it was originally thought Rhoades would stay with the Rams for the long haul, rumors started swirling last weekend on social media that he was meeting with Penn State to take over as Head Coach for the Lions.

Late Wednesday afternoon, we learned from a press release, that the rumors were true.

Penn State wanted to make the announcement official which led to Thursday's press conference.

Bryce Jordan Center's arena was transformed for the event with Rhoades image in Penn State gear displayed on the center court screen, which was lowered to floor level.

Rhoades spoke to approximately 50 members of the media, including some friends and family from back in his hometown of Mahanoy City, some of his friends from his days of playing at Lebanon Valley College, and the Legion of Blue, the Penn State student cheering section.

When speaking to crowd, he talked about the university and the team.

"Penn State is about the students.  Our basketball team is always about the students.  It's a special place.  Just walking around I can see everyone is just happy to be here", Rhoades began with.

"This is going to be about building relationships that go beyond the court and into people's lives and their future.  We take big pride in that."

Coach Rhoades even touched on his roots from Schuylkill County.

"I'm happy my family and my Schuylkill County family is here.  Attendance will definitely be up . .  ALOT.  They'll be a lot of road trips from Schuylkill County.  Put a Yuengling truck out there, LOOK OUT!." Rhoades said.

He also talked his father, the late State Senator James Rhoades, and how his love grew for Penn State from going to sporting events with him as a kid.

He then talked about the team going forward.

"Today we are here to build on the excitement many witnessed this season and build on something that is bold, different, and aggressive, and not be afraid.  I know this, like everyone in this Commonwealth and this University, every day we are going to go to work.  We will be blue collar, we will have dirt on our hands, and we will be damn proud of it.  That's who we are around here.  That is what our program is going to become." Rhoades said.

After the press conference, we spoke with Eric Moucheron, Athletic Director of Mahanoy Area and a friend of Rhoades, who attended.

"This is surreal, this is Mike Rhoades and Penn State.  It's amazing to see how famous he has gotten since he was a Division I coach.  You would never know.  He is just so humble.  It's just Mike."  Moucheron said.

In regard to the reaction back in Mahanoy City, Moucheron said "It's just abuzz.  Everyone is just so excited.  I walked into the Red Zone yesterday, and it says Mike Rhoades Next Head Coach of Penn State on ESPN."

Mike's mom, Mary Edith Rhoades was also in attendance "I'm so proud of Mike and I'm glad he is here.  The whole family is happy.  Everyone is happy.  My phone hasn't stopped ringing."