Steve A. Garban, chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, reached out to gauge Virginia Coach Mike London’s interest in succeeding Joe Paterno on Wednesday, before the board announced the firing of the Nittany Lions’ longtime coach, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
The person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said London has no interest in leaving Virginia and declined the overture. In fact, the person said, London would prefer to sign an extension to remain with the Cavaliers beyond the terms of his current five-year contract, which expires Dec. 7, 2014.
Through a Virginia spokesman, London denied having been directly contacted by Penn State.
Paterno coached Penn State for nearly 46 seasons before a sex abuse scandal involving one of his longtime assistants led to Paterno’s firing late Wednesday night. Garban is the uncle of Steve Atkinson, Virginia’s director of player development.
Garban did not respond to a voicemail left at his home telephone number. A Penn State media relations official said the school could not immediately provide a comment.
Under the terms of his contract, London and Virginia officials must renegotiate the coach’s deal prior to the start of the 2013 season. His guaranteed annual salary totals $1.7 million.
The Cavaliers are 6-3 and bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. They are one of two teams still in contention for the ACC Coastal Division title (Virginia Tech is the other) and can advance to the conference championship game by winning their remaining three regular season games. Virginia hosts Duke (3-6) on Saturday.
This is London’s second season in Charlottesville. Last year, the Cavaliers went 4-8. London and his staff have drastically improved Virginia’s recruiting efforts – particularly in-state – since London was hired in December 2009.