UNIVERSITY PARK - Saying the future of the men's basketball program is "bright," Penn State athletic director Tim Curley gave coach Ed DeChellis a vote of confidence following the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years.
"He just runs a class program," Curley said, "and I'm supportive of everything he's doing.
"I just hope people will support Ed and his staff," Curley added. "They've done a fantastic job."
DeChellis, who's under contract through the 2013-14 season, has been widely criticized by Nittany Lion fans throughout much of his eight-year tenure. Some of the criticism has continued on Internet message boards despite the NCAA Tournament appearance.
"We had a fantastic year," Curley said. "He got to the tournament, and if maybe we didn't get an injury there, we may be still dancing."
Penn State lost to Temple, 66-64, on a last-second shot in the second round. The Lions played most of the second half without second-leading scorer Jeff Brooks, who suffered a shoulder injury.
"I think if he would have stayed healthy ... we had a really good shot," Curley said. "We had a great shot as it was."
Penn State finished 19-15, giving DeChellis a record of 114-138 in his eight seasons. The Lions turned it on late, winning three games in the Big Ten Tournament to earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
"I thought they just had a great season, and certainly the last month of the year we really put it together," Curley said. "It was just, I think, a great coaching job by Ed and the staff, and this great group of seniors really made us proud."
The key for DeChellis going forward will be to turn recent success - the Lions also won the 2009 NIT title - into consistent success through strong recruiting efforts.
"Any time you have that kind of success ... I'm sure that recruiting is a little bit easier that way," Curley said. "We don't have a lot of scholarships going into the spring, but I'm sure he's going to take advantage of it.
"And certainly going into next fall - early signing period - people can see that we're a basketball program that can go to the tournament each and every year and the future's bright here."
Despite his optimism, Curley seems to understand there is a segment of fans who remain disappointed with DeChellis.
"I just hope people will end up supporting him and really try to get to the games [next season] and make sure that we give him every opportunity to be successful," Curley said.