Russ Rose knows he is committed to be the coach of the Penn State women’s volleyball team until 2020.
After that, the 63-year-old doesn’t know what the future holds.
The head Nittany Lion and the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history discussed his contract briefly, along with a number of other topics this week, fresh off State College hosting the annual Happy Volley tournament all over town.
Rose’s future became a topic of discussion during a conversation about his team’s trip to Brazil in May, when asked where he might like to see his team go on its next trip four years from now. Rose, who has seven NCAA titles and 1,213 career wins, hinted he wasn’t 100 percent sure he would still be guiding the team then.
“It’s not totally up to me, to be honest with you,” Rose said, noting it is up to school administrators to decide if they want to extend his current four-year contract. He also said he wasn’t actively pursuing anything.
“I’m not in the administration’s office saying, ‘Let’s renegotiate my contract.’ And I’m not looking for another job as we speak.”
The second season of sand volleyball as an NCAA championship sport was just completed last month, with Southern California grabbing the title. However, Rose does not see sand courts in Penn State’s future.
“I’ve never been leading the charge for it,” said Rose, who would have no interest in coaching it. “I want the U.S. to have great success in sand volleyball in international competition and the Olympics, but I don’t see it as a viable item here when there are limited resources.”
Nebraska is the only Big Ten school, and one of the few northern non-coastal schools, with a team.
Rose was proud to point out three Nittany Lion alumni are training with the U.S. national program these days, with setter Micah Hancock and outside hitters Megan Courtney and Aiyana Whitney.
Lions on the bench
A few former Nittany Lions picked up new jobs in the offseason. Katie Schumacher-Cawley is the new head coach at Pennsylvania.
Landing assistant coaching jobs were Alyssa D’Errico at Dayton and Kristin Carpenter at Maryland — with former Penn State assistant coach Steve Aird heading into his fourth year as head coach. Also, Deja McClendon is a volunteer assistant coach at her hometown school Louisville.
Rose’s son, Chris, is now an assistant coach at Marshall.
Three players join the roster this fall. Cami May is a 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Katy, Texas. She enrolled in January and went through spring drills. She is just the second January enrollee in program history.
The other freshman is Michaela Putnicki, a 6-1 outside hitter from Colorado, while Kathryn Cather is a 6-2 junior opposite transferring from Mississippi.
Rose said he has not yet seen Cather play, with the first time expected to be during one of the team’s camps this summer.
Three players left the program during the offseason. Middle blocker Jelena Novakovic transferred to Virginia, which is coached by former Nittany Lion men’s player Aaron Smith. Novakovic saw action in just four matches last season and registered three kills.
Setter Wilma Rivera went to Louisville, which Rose said needed a setter while Penn State had three on the roster. Rivera saw a lot of playing time as a freshman but got into just 10 matches last season mostly in the back row and serving specialist.
“Both of them left and our relationships are fine,” said Rose, who figures he has had 10 or so transfer away in his 38 seasons. “We helped them get placed. We want them to be happy.”
Also, outside hitter Emily Demure left for Colorado, spending a redshirt season with the Nittany Lions and never playing in a match.
While it may be a useful tool for some and a way of life for many, Twitter is not a major part of Rose’s day. He has the app on his phone and follows some accounts, but he said he has never posted a tweet of his own.
“It’s just noise,” he said. “For me, I have more important ways to make my team and my life better.”