Rene Portland, who coached Penn State’s women’s basketball team to national prominence, has died after a three-year fight with cancer.
She was 65. D’Anjolell Memorial Home of Broomall in Pennsylvania confirmed her death Sunday.
Portland took over what was already a successful program in 1980 and built it into one that frequently dominated play in the Big Ten, with the team at times ranked the top team in the country.
She led Penn State to its first NCAA Final Four, in 2000, with the Lady Lions the national title runner-up, losing to Connecticut. She also coached at St. Joseph’s and Colorado, amassing 693 wins in all — 606 of them at Penn State — and with 21 appearances in the NCAA tournament.
Portland resigned in 2007 after facing a series of discrimination allegations during her tenure. Portland and Penn State settled a lawsuit in February of that year by former player Jennifer Harris, who claimed Portland had a “no-lesbian” policy on her team.
Portland’s basketball pedigree reached back to Immaculata College “Mighty Macs”, where she played on three AIAW national championship teams in the early 1970s, before the NCAA recognized women’s sports.
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