Former Penn State Women's Basketball Coach Rene Portland Dies at 65

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2018

FILE - In this March 2, 2003 file photo Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland waves the net she cut down to celebrate their Big 10 regular season championship after defeating Wisconsin in State College, Pa. Portland, who built Penn State into a women's basketball powerhouse during a 27-year tenure, has died after a three-year fight with cancer. She was 65. D'Anjolell Memorial Home of Broomall in Pennsylvania confirmed her death Sunday, July 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Pat Little, file)
Pat Little/Associated Press

Former Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland died Sunday at the age of 65.

D'Anjolell Memorial Home confirmed the news to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).

Portland coached the Lady Lions from 1980-2007, winning 606 games with the program while leading the team to the Final Four in 2000.

She was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. 

Portland had 693 career wins and just 265 losses across her time at Penn State, Saint Joseph's and Colorado, ranking among the winningest coaches of all time

Meanwhile, her career ended in controversy after a former player alleged the coach "discriminated against players whom she perceived to be gay." The school was sued in 2005, but according to the AP, "the lawsuit was settled confidentially." An internal investigation into the matter by Penn State only resulted in a one-game suspension and $10,000 fine. 

She resigned in 2007.

Prior to her time as a head coach, Portland also had a notable playing career at Immaculata College from 1972-75, helping the team win three national championships and earn the moniker "Mighty Macs" in the process. The titles came as part of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women prior to the NCAA's recognition of women's sports.

Portland was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for her efforts as a coach and player.

"She will be remembered as someone who gave her life to her family, her teams and her women," former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "As a player, she was a fierce competitor at Immaculata and she carried that trait into her coaching career. She was a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother and friend who will be missed."

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