The Nittany Lion Rugby Association clarified some aspects of their announced search for a Penn State Men’s Associate Head Coach today, confirming that no current members of the Penn State coaching staff have left.
Bernie Cantorna, the State College, Pa. lawyer who chairs the NLRA, told RUGBYMag.com that the alumni-support group is looking to make major changes in the future of Penn State rugby, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is moving on. Don Ferrell remains as Director of Rugby, with Chris Amoratis as Assistant DOR and assistant coach with both the men’s and women’s teams. Pete Steinberg remains Head Coach of the women’s team.
But the NRLA is looking to hire an elite-level men’s Associate Head Coach, and that coach will also have an extra job as Director of Rugby Development. And that, said Cantorna, is the central theme in what’s changing at Penn State.
“We have a plan for Penn State rugby that also includes developing and supporting rugby at the grassroots level in our area – and our area means a much wider region than just State College,” Cantorna told RUGBYMag.com. “The new Head Coach will have that coaching job, but will also have another, very different job, performing outreach to youth programs around the region. The new coach has to be able to work well with organizations. It’s not a change; it’s an addition.”
Cantorna said the NRLA plan is supported by the Penn State University administration, and mirrors, somewhat, what the men’s wrestling club does. The organization is looking for someone with elite coaching experience.
“The collegiate game is where the best coaches in America work, and we are looking for coaches that have demonstrated success at high levels of the game to help the men compete and to continue the success of the women,” said Cantorna. “The initiative is a combined effort by three organizations; the University, the Penn State Alumni Board and the Nittany Lion Rugby Association, and is focused on developing rugby as a whole. The [new job] title is Associate Head Coach and this role is the same that Pete Steinberg takes for the women's team at Penn State. This role is focused on what happens on the pitch. Don Ferrell is still the Head Coach of the Men and will take on almost all of the administrative requirements for the team allowing this person to have time to focus on leading the men's team and supporting the women. They will also have time to help grow the game locally, which will in turn help develop the men and women's teams. We are looking at building long-term success.”
Rugby is not a varsity sport at Penn State, but neither is it a club sport. It falls under the category of “Team Sport” which is a type of sport that answers to the athletic department and receives certain perks, such as varsity athletic health insurance, admissions support, varsity strength and conditioning coaches and access, and two full-time employees that support rugby.
Cantorna said the plan is to support positions at Penn State, but that there’s a plan in place to sustain the program with more than just alumni money in about three years.