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BREAKING: Reports indicate Mike Rhoades to Penn State is a done deal

Rhoades returns to his Pennsylvania roots to be the Nittany Lions’ next head man.



Mike Rhoades, Penn State basketball head coach
Mar 12, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Mike Rhoades yells out instructions in the second half against the Dayton Flyers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

State College, PA — Less than a week after Micah Shrewsberry left the program to take the head coaching job at Notre Dame, the Nittany Lions have found their replacement. On Tuesday night, it was reported by one of the most reliable reporters in the college hoops game that Mike Rhoades will be the Penn State basketball head coach. It was first reported that Rhoades was a serious candidate of interest on Sunday afternoon.

Rhoades has considerable experience at various levels of college basketball and has been a part of both consistent winners and program rebuilds. However, rebuilding Penn State basketball after Shrewsberry’s departure may be his most challenging task yet. The hire was first reported by Dick Weiss, a hall of fame basketball writer and one of the most influential and accurate voices in the sport. The hire is expected to be made official tomorrow after Penn State’s compensation committee approves of the move tomorrow afternoon around 4:30 PM (EST).

Pennsylvania roots

AD Pat Kraft prioritized ties to the Keystone State by hiring Rhoades. Mike Rhoades was born and raised in Mahanoy City in Schuylkill County. He played at D-III Lebanon Valley College, where he was a two-time All-American and D-III National Player of the Year in 1995. Leaving as the program’s leading scorer, Rhoades was inducted into the LVC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Rhoades then spent almost two decades as an assistant and later head coach at Randolph-Macon College (D-III) in Virginia. As a head coach, he led the Yellow Jackets to four NCAA tournament appearances and had a .722 winning percentage.

A Cinderella story

Rhoades’s name was thrust into the spotlight at VCU. An assistant under Shaka Smart, VCU made an improbable run to the Final Four as an 11-seed in 2011. In 2012, ESPN named Rhoades one of the top 10 assistant coaches under the age of 40.

Mike Rhoades was named the head coach at Rice in 2014, where he led a stunning turnaround of the Owls’ program. In 2016, Rice won 23 games, the program’s first 20-win season since 2003. Rhoades returned to VCU, this time as the head coach, in 2017. At 25 wins, he tied VCU’s regular season victory mark in his second year at the program’s helm in 2018. In 2023, Rhoades made his third NCAA tournament appearance in five seasons as VCU’s head coach.

Mike Rhoades has a difficult job ahead as the next Penn State basketball head coach

Mike Rhoades brings a track record of success in almost 30 years in the coaching ranks. But there’s no way to sugarcoat it. This may be his most formidable job yet.

Penn State basketball barely has a functioning roster after Micah Shrewsberry left for South Bend. The Nittany Lions have lost nine players from its 2023 NCAA tournament roster – six to graduation and three to the transfer portal. The program has already lost Carey Booth, a Penn State legacy and cornerstone of the 2023 recruiting cycle. The remainder of the class is likely not far behind. At a higher level, Rhoades must overcome an inadequate NIL infrastructure and years of programmatic deficiencies to build a consistent winner.

Coming home

Most of the time, I try to remove my feelings from my writing. But as a fellow Schuylkill County native, I can’t deny that this hire is personal for me. Schuylkill County is like a small town on a county level. You’re never more than two or three degrees of separation from anyone else back home. Such is the case for Mike Rhoades and me.

The legacy of Mike Rhoades’s father, seven-term state Senator James Rhoades, reverberates in Schuylkill County to this day. As a child, I remember my own father’s stories from working with Senator Rhoades on public welfare initiatives. No matter who you were, Senator Rhoades was the type of man who would take the time to learn – and remember – your name.

As a 20-year-old political science major at Penn State, I had the privilege to work in the state capitol for Senator David Argall, who succeeded Rhoades in Schuylkill County’s seat in the Pennsylvania State Senate. With many holdovers from his predecessor’s staff, I was amazed by how vividly and fondly Senator Rhoades was spoken of, who had passed away unexpectedly almost a decade prior. This was one of the many experiences over that summer which inspired me to return to Harrisburg several years later to begin my own career in public service (when I’m not gracing the pages of Basic Blues Nation, of course).

As a member of a Nittany Lion family from birth, I can also speak to the importance of the Penn State community. Penn Staters don’t just want a coach; they want someone who is one of them. Beyond the wins and losses, a coach who buys into the culture and values of Penn State can adhere themselves to the fanbase for life. I can’t predict wins and losses, conference titles, or NCAA tournament appearances. But with a reasonably high degree of confidence, I can say that Mike Rhoades is one of us. I’ve seen first-hand how the Rhoades family can make a difference in the community. I have no doubt that they will do the same for Penn State.

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Matt is a Co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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