Coaching vacancy drawing interest
By Guy Cipriano

Penn State athletic director Tim Curley has multiple options if he doesn't want to leave the school's alumni base to find a new head wrestling coach.

Local camp coordinator and owner Ken Chertow, Edinboro coach Tim Flynn, Lehigh assistant John Hughes and Maryland coach Kerry McCoy expressed interest Monday in replacing former coach Troy Sunderland.

The quartet recorded more than 100 victories during their respective Penn State careers. The school?s past three head coaches ? Rich Lorenzo, John Fritz and Sunderland ? were former Penn State wrestlers. Chertow, Flynn, Hughes and McCoy are also former Nittany Lion assistant coaches.

?Being the Penn State wrestling coach is the best coaching position in the nation,? said Chertow, a 1988 Olympian who lives in Boalsburg. ?Any Penn State graduate who is a serious coach will be interested in this special opportunity. I am definitely interested in becoming the leader of the Penn State wrestling program. It would be an honor to coach my alma mater.?

Chertow and Flynn, who led Edinboro to a sixth-place finish at last month?s NCAA Championships, were finalists for the position that went to Sunderland in 1998.

?I think everybody in the country would be interested in the Penn State job,? Flynn said Monday evening.

Sunderland officially resigned this past weekend after 11 years as head coach. The move ended speculation regarding his status. The speculation started during the postseason and increased after a meeting between Sunderland and Curley on March 26. Penn State went 8-12-2 in dual meets and finished 17th during the NCAA Championships this past season.

?The last couple of weeks everyone was talking about it, but nothing was made official,? McCoy said. ?People were asking, ?What?s going to happen? What?s going to happen?? I told them I didn?t know because it?s something that?s not there. It?s the same thing since the announcement came out. I?m here. If I?m one of the candidates for the position, then nobody has told me about it. You can?t go on what-ifs. If there?s interest from State College, nobody has contacted me.?

McCoy, who signed a five-year contract with Maryland last spring, said he would be interested in replacing Sunderland if contacted by Penn State. McCoy, the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, led Maryland to a 10th place finish at this year?s NCAA Championships. Three of Maryland?s four NCAA qualifiers earned All- American honors.

?It?s one of those things that?s not a secret when someone gets into athletics their alma mater is a place they often like to get back to,? said McCoy, a 1994 and ?97 NCAA heavyweight champion and two-time Olympian. ?I have been asked about it for years and I have come out firm that I would love to coach there given the right circumstances. Timing is everything in this world. I don?t know if the opportunity is going to present itself, and I got something good going here. I?m happy here. We?re doing well here. If the opportunity came about, I would talk with my family and think about it. As of right now, it?s hypothetical. That?s just the nature of this business.?

McCoy has been involved in multiple coaching searches. He left his job as a Lehigh assistant to become Stan-ford?s head coach in 2005. He then left Stanford last spring to replace Pat Santoro at Maryland. Santoro left Maryland to become Lehigh?s head coach.

One of Santoro?s early moves at Lehigh involved bringing Hughes from State College to Bethlehem. Hughes, a 1995 NCAA champion, spent five years as an assistant on Sunderland?s staff. Hughes left Penn State last July and helped Lehigh finish 23-1 and qualify seven wrestlers for this year?s NCAA Championships.

?I have heard the innuendoes about who the candidates are and if I were one of them, I would be pleased to talk to the administration,? Hughes said. ?I have spoken with Coach Santoro about the real possibility of the Penn State position and would want to have further dialogue with him moving forward.?

Hughes is considered one of the top recruiters in Pennsylvania. Hughes, a four-time PIAA Class AA champion at District 4 Benton High School, has developed solid relationships with many of the state?s top high school coaches and wrestlers.

Chertow has direct links to the Pennsylvania wrestling community and many of central Pennsylvania?s top youth wrestlers train at Chertow?s Home Training Center in Boalsburg. Current Penn State wrestlers Quentin Wright and Brad Pataky trained with Chertow throughout their youth careers. Chertow also conducts camps across the country, with attendance increasing from 100 students in 1989 to more than 3,000 last year.

?I have been engrossed full time in our sport for over 20 years,? he said. ?I study, teach and coach our sport continuously. Wrestling is my passion and coaching is my life?s work. I know many of the top prospects well from developing them and training them at my camps and could immediately bring in the best recruits across Pennsylvania and the country.?

Flynn?s ability to successfully recruit Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio has helped Edinboro finish in the top 10 during three of the past four NCAA Championships. The Fighting Scots have produced 21 All-Americans and three NCAA champions this decade. Flynn, Edinboro?s coach since 1997, was named Eastern Wrestling League Coach of the Year for the fifth time this past year.

Curley, who spent Monday attending the NCAA men?s basketball title game in Detroit, couldn?t be reached for comment about the search process.